- Series: Oxford World's Classics
- Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 15, 2008)
- Language: English, French
- ISBN-10: 0199535582
- ISBN-13: 978-0199535583
- Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.4 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 85 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Flowers of Evil (Oxford World's Classics) (English and French Edition)
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'Jonathan Culler's 24 page introduction is thoughtful and informative; and the editorial apparatus of bibliography, chronology and notes on the text are up to the high standard of the series.' Acumen Magazine
'McGowan's fine poetic sense uses the springing monosyllable to good effect; A reader who goes straight to James McGowan's versions will be well rewarded. A scrupulous and sensitive poet has made the whole of Baudelaire's poetry in verse available in English so that the unique quality of the original consistently survives.' Harry Guest, Journal of European Studies, XXIV (1994)
'Culler's insistence on Baudelaire's depressing conclusions is welcome at a time when these poems are frequently subjected to evangelical optimism. McGowan urges us to consult other translations. His own generally reliable versions - given his satanic pact with symmetry - are probably now the best place to start.' Graham Robb, French Studies, Vol. 48, Pt.4
About the Author
James N McGowan, Professor of English, Illinois Wesleyan University, Illinois. Jonathan Culler, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Cornell University.
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Baudelaire rejects the notion that nature is supreme, the idea of the romantics and expressed by them in their writing and art. He considered the poem as a self-referential object. He was a slow and fastidious worker, often sidetracked by emotional distress and illness. It was not until 1857, when he was 36, that he published this book, the first and most famous volume of his poem.
Baudelaire’s works touch on sex, death, wine, lesbianism, sacred and profane love, metamorphosis, melancholy, lost innocence, and the oppressiveness of society. He uses the sense of smell in his poems to evoke remembered feelings of the past.
In 1847, at the age of 26, Baudelaire became acquainted with the works of Edgar Allan Poe who died two years later at age forty. He liked the bizarre and macabre Poe tales and poems. He felt that they expressed his own feelings. Baudelaire, like Poe, struggled with illness, poverty, and melancholy, believed in Saint Augustine’s notion of Original Sin, which plays a part in their writings, and felt that humans are not naturally good, but faulty, and therefore denounced democracy and the idea of progress. From 1847 to 1865, until two years before his death, Baudelaire used much of his time translating Poe's works, and his translations were praised. He also wrote two essays on Poe.
Les fleur du Mal contains 54 translated poems. The first “Benediction,” expresses what has been said above about him. It begins:
When by the changeless Power of a Supreme Decree
The poet issues forth upon this sorry sphere
His mother, horrified, and full of blasphemy,
Uplifts her voice to God, who takes compassion on her.
“Ah, why did I not bear a serpent’s nest entire,
Instead of bringing forth this hideous Child of doom!
Oh cursed be that transient night of vain desire
When I conceived my expiation in my womb!
McGowan's 1993 translation, into rhyming and metrical English verse, leans to the "literal" end of this spectrum. He renders Baudelaire's words, images, and verse closely enough that the reader can get a pretty reliable idea of the original. Although this is a faithful translation that stays away from "poetic license" and flights of fancy, it still reads well in English.
As an example of its acceptance in the world of Baudelaire studies, McGowan's translation is the one that is used by "The Cambridge Companion to Baudelaire" (ed. Rosemary Lloyd, 2005) for all quotations from Les Fleurs du Mal. If I could only have one English-language translation of Baudelaire in my library, this would be a good first choice.
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Poetry has many characters, some developed and others not.Read more