The Flowers of Evil

The Flowers of Evil

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by Charles Baudelaire
     
 

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In the annals of literature, few volumes of poetry have achieved the influence and notoriety of 'The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs dur Mal) by Charles Baudelaire (1821-67). Banned and slighted in his lifetime, the book that contains all of Baudelaire's verses has opened up vistas to the imagination and quickened sensibilities of poets everywhere. See more details below

Overview

In the annals of literature, few volumes of poetry have achieved the influence and notoriety of 'The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs dur Mal) by Charles Baudelaire (1821-67). Banned and slighted in his lifetime, the book that contains all of Baudelaire's verses has opened up vistas to the imagination and quickened sensibilities of poets everywhere.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Thus the delight and curiosity of Keith Waldrop's new translation. It's close to plain prose: ‘versets,’ he calls them, paragraphs divided where Baudelaire's stanza's break. It's by no means the first prose translation, but it's the most charming: I don't recall another version, verse or prose, that slips so easily into the comradely 'we.'"—New York Times Book Review

The task of the translator...is to reconcile the strengths of the poet with his new surroundings, setting him in flight with wings that do not impede his walk. In part from the landing on versets, but more particularly from his deftness in English and the depth of his understanding of Baudelaire, Keith Waldrop has created a Flowers of Evil that, one gesture, can come to terms with the new needs of poetry readers in English and the foreignness of the language of Les Fleurs du mal."—Rain Taxi

"Waldrop's translations soar...perhaps getting closer to Baudelaire's rich tone than any other English translation."—Chicago Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811202497
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
01/01/1962
Series:
World's Classics Series
Edition description:
REVISED
Product dimensions:
1.00(w) x 1.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The modern literary spirit was born out of the measured angles so carefully calculated by Laclos. He was the first element discovered by Baudelaire, who was a refined and reasonable explorer from a privileged background, but whose views on modern life contained a particular madness.
Laclos delighted in inspiring the corrupt bubbles that rose from the strange and rich literary mud of the Revolution. Like Diderot, Laclos was the intellectual son of Richardson and Rousseau, and his work was continued by Sade, Restif, Nerciat - some of the most notable philosophical storytellers of the late 18th century. Most of them, in fact, contained the seeds of the modern spirit, and they were poised to create a triumphant new era for arts and letters.
During this nauseating and often brilliant era of Revolution, Baudelaire mingled his spiritualistic poison with the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, a strange American, who had composed, in the poetic field, work which was as disturbing and as marvellous as the work of Laclos.
Baudelaire then is the son of Laclos and Poe. One can easily untangle the influence that each exerted on Baudelaire's prophetic mind and on his work, both so full of originality. As of this year, 1917, when his work enters the public domain, we can not only place him in the front rank of the great French poets, but also award him a place alongside the greatest of universal poets.
The evidence for the influence of the cynical writers of the Revolution on Les Fleurs du Mal can be seen everywhere in Baudelaire's correspondence and in his notes. When he decided to translate and adapt Poe's works, strangely, he found a higher lyricism and moral feeling than he had thought was present in the writings of the marvellous Baltimore drunkard and his prohibited readings.
In the novelists of the Revolution, he had discovered the importance of the question of sex.
From the Anglo-Saxons of the same era, such as de Quincey and Poe, Baudelaire had learned that there were artificial paradises. Their methodical exploration - supported by Reason, the revolutionary goddess - enabled him to reach the lyrical heights towards which the mad American predicants had directed Poe, their contemporary. But Reason blinded him, and he abandoned it as soon as he had reached the heights.
Baudelaire then is the son of Laclos and Edgar Allan Poe, but a son who is blind and insane...

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What People are saying about this

Norma Cole
"This is the Baudelaire translation for our time--and for all time. Relentlessly straightforward, surprisingly succinct, hilarious and horrifying as they are, these poems have never been as readable in English."
Norma Cole, author of Spinoza in Her Youth
Cole Swensen
“There are numerous translations of Les Fleurs du Mal in print, but none even approach Waldrop’s-he alone captures the speed and verve of the real Baudelaire.”

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