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The Flowers of Evil Paperback – October 15, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1449555436 ISBN-10: 1449555438

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The rendering of Baudelaire's ground-breaking classic into English has been tackled numerous times in various ways since the 19th century. In this version, rather than utilizing rhymed stanzas, free verse or prose, prolific poet and translator Waldrop attempts to capture Baudelaire's ever-elusive tone in versets, paragraphs of "measured prose" similar to those used in the King James Bible. While readers may miss the compression and restraint that line breaks demanded in earlier translations, Waldrop does succeed in approaching Baudelaire's layered irony, at once serious and over-the-top, comic and scandalous. Reading "Like some rake...gumming the brutalized tit of a superannuated whore" , it becomes clear why the French government saw fit to ban some of this work in 1857. At the same time, Baudelaire-the archetypal urban dandy-could see the beauty of a female beggar ("your sickly young body, densely freckled, has a sweetness for this poor poet"), identify himself with the "awkward and ashamed" albatross abused by sailors, and see in a naked lover "the hips of Antiope united with the bust of a beardless boy." Waldrop sounds off on all-things-Baudelaire in an informative introduction. New translations of this seminal poet will continue to surface with each new generation of readers and writers: Waldrop brings a contemporary feels to Baudelaire's most important work.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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 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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 70 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449555438
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449555436
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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A bit embarrasing.
Andrew Douglas Crocker
I can't comment on the English version with Kindle but would suggest a bilingual edition.
Alessandra Recinos
Baudelaire was a very talented wordsmith and his poetry is lyrical an descriptive.
S. Schwartz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By S. Schwartz on October 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
As you read these stark and beautiful poems you may see into the tortured psyche of the poet who wrote them. Baudelaire had a short and sad life. He contracted syphilis at a young age, and this disease plagued him for all his life until he died at the age of 46. His poetry was written in the mid nineteenth century, and when this book came out in 1857 it shocked the French-speaking world. In fact the book was banned for a time, and when it did come out again six or seven poems were removed from it. The edition that I had had all his poetry including the banned ones, and I recommend that if you're interested in great poetry that you get the complete edition. In his poetry Baudelaire examined evil under a magnifying glass and exposed it for the world to see. His language and imagery are absolutely beyond belief. Baudelaire was a very talented wordsmith and his poetry is lyrical an descriptive. In the cold light of our modern world, Baudelaire's stepping into the world of erotica seems tame compared to what we're used to, but it's easy to see why it shocked everyone at the time. This is beautiful poetry that will come out and grab your soul.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alaric on April 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Advantages/features of the New Directions edition:

--Diverse translator-palate represented from various repertoires (complete&original ordering).
--Inclusion of material censored in the first edition.
--Inclusion of preface drafts.
--Appearances by high-profile names from the translation world in its era of first publication for this edition (1955).
--None of Richard Howard's prose travesties grace this volume.


--Quality, method, ear-for-Baudelaire-magnitude, and command of English varies greatly. Most of the efforts fall on their face (Particularly Kunitz&Lowell: who start off the volume. Not good.) Among the stronger attempts: F.P. Sturm, C.F. Macintyre, Aldous Huxely (for one poem: Lesbians)
--Dated edition, first published in'55.

Lowell has a volume of a complete LFDM which attempts to retain the rhyme-scheme and conform to a 10 syllable-per-line basis, as compared to C.B.'s twelve. The result is mostly obtuse, un-lyrical and ponderously banal. His brief appearance in the book (some 10 poems --or not much more) is fortunate.

* * *


The New Directions edition recommends itself, given the proliferation of less-than-scholarly efforts whom are transmogrifying permutations on a theme: anything but THE Baudelaire we know in French, in GOOD English! It's the only of its kind that presents LFDM in complete form with the original, together with something approaching intelligent editorship. What is clear from this publisher's effort: the state of translation presented is a very sorry one, though, not the fault of the compilers.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Douglas Crocker on May 4, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a review for the Kindle Version. It is translated by Cyril Scott and has a mere 51 poems, as opposed to what it is advertised as having; the entire collection. It is translated in old English, but also a bad translation in general. It does not include The Voyage, which is ridiculous, and even titles Invitation to the Voyage with Journey instead. I love Baudelaire and study him intently. There are so many great translations and this is the one Kindle has? A bit embarrasing. While Baudelaire's words are undoubtedly here, they are poor in comparison to any number of translations. Kindle store, please invest in a better translation. This is a sleight to the master.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By on February 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
More than a century after his death, Baudelaire's paradox is intact. He is probably the most widely known lyric poet of modern times, yet his reputation is only indirectly connected to his poetry. We see him as a man of outrageous morals who chose to write about morbid subjects. He is our archangel of alienation. ''Man was born free, yet everywhere he is in chains,'' Rousseau had written. Baudelaire gave us the spectacle of his chains: the ennui, the revulsive morals, the dance of death of city life with its loneliness, its abyss of degradation. Like the albatross dragging its oarlike wings over the deck in his famous poem, Baudelaire described himself as a fallen angel, no longer able to fly and therefore ludicrous, unadapted. This spectacle of horrible reversal - evil for good, cruelty for kindness - is Baudelaire's trademark. Baudelaire was also a profoundly classical poet. His poems represent a climax of strict French style, of which the other important master was Racine.
Like Balzac and Dickens, Baudelaire was a poet of the city. His ''Flowers of Evil'' grew in sunless alleys. The disjointed feelings, the ennui, the cruelty that characterize his poems express the shattered connections of life in the city, where everyone is a stranger, where the past is consumed by the present, especially in mid-19th-century Paris, where familiar neighborhoods were being demolished year by year to make way for monumental buildings and vast boulevards. This disjointed city world is Baudelaire's setting. He dreams of fleeing it in his exotic travel poems, which almost always disclose as their destination an inescapable horror of the heart. There was no exit from Baudelaire's Paris, except for the alchemical change proffered by his rituals of language, his ironically beautiful lyrics...
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