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The Flowers of Evil
Charles Baudelaire; Keith Waldrop, trans.



Wesleyan Poetry Series

Wesleyan
2006 • 224 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Poetry / Literary Criticism - French

$18.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6800-7


Trans. from the French

“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... [continued in Reviews below]”—The New York Times Book Review

A modernist classic translated for the twenty-first century.

The poetic masterpiece of the great nineteenth-century writer Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil is one of the most frequently read and studied works in the French language. In this compelling new translation of Baudelaire’s most famous collection, Keith Waldrop recasts the poet’s original French alexandrines and other poetic arrangements into versets, a form that hovers between poetry and prose. Maintaining Baudelaire’s complex view of sound and structure, Waldrop’s translation mirrors the intricacy of the original without attempting to replicate its inimitable verse. The result is a powerful new re-imagining, one that is, almost paradoxically, closer to Baudelaire’s own poetry than any previous English translation. Including the six poems banned from the first edition, this Flowers of Evil preserves the complexity, eloquence, and dark humor of its author. Brought here to new life, it is hypnotic, frank, and forceful.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“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.’”—The 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

“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

“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.”—Cole Swensen, Iowa Writers’ Workshop

From the Book:

Huddled, teeming, like gut-worms by the million, a clutch of Demons make whoopee in our brain and, when we breathe, Death floods our lungs, an invisible torrent, muffled in groans.
—from The Flowers of Evil



Author Photo

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE (1821–1867) wrote some of the most innovative poetry of the nineteenth century, in books including Les Fleurs du Mal and Le spleen de Paris. KEITH WALDROP is author of numerous collections of poetry and is the translator of The Selected Poems of Edmond Jabès, as well as works by Claude Royet-Journoud, Anne-Marie Albiach, and Jean Grosjean.



Sun, 19 Mar 2017 18:58:54 -0500