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Arthur Rimbaud's 'A Season in Hell'
Caring for Rare Books

The enemies of paper are moisture, heat and time. All paper degrades eventually -- in fact, some of it is made with acids that cause the paper to literally disintegrate. Even the finest paper or vellum can fall prey to mold or water damage; light (especially sunlight) causes serious ink fading. For that reason, very rare books aren't often displayed in public, and when they are, they're kept in dim temperature- and humidity-controlled environments.

French poet Arthur Rimbaud wrote "A Season in Hell" at the tail end of a tempestuous relationship with fellow poet Paul Verlaine. It's a lengthy poem broken into several sections, and much of it seems to be fueled by Rimbaud's use of hashish, absinthe and alcohol. It's a highly influential work, impacting the development of the Symbolist and Surrealist movements. Rimbaud published it in 1873 [source: Harvard].

A first edition signed by Rimbaud and inscribed to Verlaine was sold for $644,000 in 2006 [source: Forbes].

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