The Flowers of Evil
—from "XII, The Crowd"
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.
About the Authors
"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
"Waldrop's translations soar...perhaps getting closer to Baudelaire's rich tone than any other English translation."—Chicago Review
"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
Other Titles by Charles Baudelaire
Other Titles by Keith Waldrop
Other Titles from Wesleyan Poetry Series
Other Titles in POETRY / General