The Flowers of Evil
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The Flowers of Evil

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  20,094 ratings  ·  506 reviews
The Flowers of Evil, which T.S. Eliot called the greatest example of modern poetry in any language, shocked the literary world of nineteenth century France with its outspoken portrayal of lesbian love, its linking of sexuality and death, its unremitting irony, and its unflinching celebration of the seamy side of urban life. Including the French texts and comprehensive expl...more
Paperback, 458 pages
Published September 17th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1857)
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matt

Here's a recent essay on Baudelaire from the trusty, always-interesting online mag The Millions:
http://www.themillions.com/2013/04/th...

So as to try to follow that, I've got to disclose a bit of an embarrassment. Baudelaire was, for me, the kind of poet only certain kinds of people liked. By this I don't mean Francophiles or the merely pretentious but there was something that set a devotee of C.B. apart from your average earnest, quavering, verbose, nervous poet or poetry fanboy.

It's hard to...more
Kelly
Jan 18, 2008 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Francophiles and poetry lovers
Recommended to Kelly by: My European history teacher
After reading Baudelaire, I suddenly find myself wanting to smoke cigarettes and say very cynical things while donning a trendy haircut. Plus, if I didn't read Baudelaire, how could I possibly carry on conversations with pretentious art students?

In all seriousness, though, I wish my French was better, so that I could read it in its intended language. I'm sure it looses something in the translation... but it's still great stuff nonetheless.

And with a title like "Flowers of Evil," how can you go...more
MJ Nicholls
Superlative. Thrilling. Sensual. Naughty. Macabre. Joyous. Liberating. Essential. Poetry for the reluctant poetry reader, i.e. me. (A little distracted here listening to Belle & Sebastian’s Write About Love which I finally acquired. Hence the choppiness). Great translation. Don’t care about reading in the original or what is lost in translation. Each translation adds to or improves the previous and this one reads pretty swell to me. Where do I go from here? Verlaine? Rimbaud? Mallarmé? Pam A...more
Timmy
This is a step towards possession.

Certainly the possession does not last the entire way through, but even in the less interesting or repetitive poems there are some jarring lines, amplified by a soul in Heat.

Like any elevated piece of literature, Flowers of Evil consumed me to such an extent that at times I forgot I was reading words on a page, its intensity moving my mind into some unknown zone where images, thoughts, and recollections screamed by, colliding with each other. So, too, did I fee...more
James
One of my favorite poets of all time.

Baudelaire emphasized above all the disassociated character of modern experience: the sense that alienation is an inevitable part of our modern world. In his prose, this complexity is expressed via harshness and shifts of mood.

The constant emphasis on beauty and innocence, even alongside the seamier aspects of humanity, reinforce an existentialist ideal that rejects morality and embraces transgression. Objects, sensations, and experiences often clash, implici...more
Antonomasia
translated by Edna St. Vincent Millay & George Dillon

It's outrageous that this wonderful translation is out of print.
After looking at many versions (including Richard Howard, James McGowan, and Cyril Scott who was my second favourite) this was the only one with truly good poems which replicated the original structures and had the glittering night-magic of Baudelaire's sensual, sinister, romantic, gothic wonderland. Which would of course have something to do with one of the translators herse...more
woodfaeries
May 08, 2012 woodfaeries marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
My darling was naked, or nearly, for knowing my heart
she had left on her jewels, the bangles and chains
whose jingling music gave her the conquering air
of a Moorish slave on days her master is pleased

Whenever I hear such insolent harmonies,
that scintillating world of metal and stone
beguiles me altogether, and I am enthralled
by objects whose sound is a synonym for light

For there she lay on the couch, allowing herself
to be adored, a secret smile indulging
the deep and tenacious currents of my love
wh...more
Rhonda
I was so taken by this book that I memorized whole passages to repeat if only to myself at various times of the day. As I recall, my friends began to think I was mentally ill. Nevertheless, the power of this book was immense on my life as a college junior, I think, and it caused me to fall in love with everything that was French, cynical and wearing a beret, much like a Parisian waiter on his day off. I actually picked this book up because I loved the name, but it also began a long term love aff...more
Mai Kais
أزهار الشر فهو من أعظم دوايين الشعر التي ظهرت على مر العصور . صدر هذا الديوان عام 1855م .يقول هنري لوميتير في مقدمته للديوان :


"إن التمزق الذي عانى منه بودلير بين الرغبات الحسية التي عذبته طوال حياته وبين الإيمان الروحى سمة عصره المسيحى الكاثوليكي لتفشي سر هذه الأفكار التي سيطرت على روحه والتي تضمنتها قصائده والواضحةفي كل لغة وصور ورموز شعره "


مقتطفات من أجمل قصائد الديوان :

- القارورة
ألف فكرة كانت ترقد ...شرانق حريرية
راعشة بهدوء في الظلمات الكثيفة
تحلق باجنحتها وتباشر أنطلاقها
مخضبة باللازورد ملا...more
Terence
Aug 28, 2009 Terence rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: New Book shelf at library
Shelves: poetry
Flowers of Evil was an entirely serendipitous impulse check-out from my local library. I can only imagine that what caught my eye was the title - Flowers of Evil - who could resist? So I pulled it from the shelf, opened it up at random, read a few verses, and said to myself "This isn't bad."

Not only was it "not bad" but it was extraordinarily good; good enough that Baudelaire has joined the list of authors I'll pay money for.

It's random events like finding authors whose work "speaks to me" in so...more
Jamie Martone
Dec 14, 2009 Jamie Martone added it  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone who likes Edgar Allan Poe but likes more romance
Charles Baudelaire is with out a doubt my favorite poet. He writes with such passion and emotion I can't help but fall in love. I feel like he is speaking to my soul, letting me into his beautiful world.

He had a tortured soul and you can feel his pain in his work. His poem are so beautiful and bewitched with romance. To me he is a deeply intellectual person so much that it is almost a fault. His poems are filled with deep, twisted, and painful thought. In his poems he lets you see through his ey...more
Kelly
Death, decay, death, WOE, death, despair, death, afternoon tea!, death, death, some more WOE... That's the Eddie Izzard version of this collection.

Didn't finish all of them. I tried reading both the English and the French of every poem, so maybe that had something to do with it. This guy also gives Poe a run for his money in depressing. He translated Poe into French and made the imagery /more/ morose, if you can imagine. The poems I read I loved, though it does get a bit repetitive after awhile....more
Yasiru (Don't register a new account at all- grievances concerning censorship are now censored!)
This translation for Oxford World's Classics by James N McGowan is wonderful enough that I was compelled to buy it, and is offered next to the French text in this excellent paperback for a degree of transparency I am grateful for even with my limited and very much rusty French.

An indispensable resource too is the site http://fleursdumal.org/ which offers multiple older translations, again along with the original French.
Mariam Okasha
ليست تجربتي الأولى في قراءة الشعر المترجم ...فقد قرأت بعض شعر دانتي من قبل ..لكن بودلير مختلف
أعتقد أن قدرته على التشبيه قدرة عالية جدا و في كلٍ من قصائدهِ كنت أرى ابداعًا جديدًا لم أعهده من قبل .. في ديوان أزهار الشر أعجبني العديد من القصائد و أعتقد أنه بداية جيدة تؤهلني لأكون معجبة حقيقية بفن بودلير الراقي المميز
Julia Boechat Machado
All my reviews are currently in Library Thing. I'm no longer updating my GR since it was bought by Amazon.
Szplug
I retain barely enough (Canadian) French to be able to falteringly enter Baudelaire's ink-delimited sensorium, to brokenly experience the sensual garden of verse he created - sinful, breathy, carnal, passionate; a full-flowered bloom of les fleurs noir. Thus, it's nice to have English translations to fall back on, ones which retain a heady beauty all of their own. Jackson Mathews has assembled a superb version for New Directions Books, with the editors selecting the best translations from some t...more
Edward
My love of literature began at a young age, in part, with French literature. I loved translations of Alexander Dumas and when I grew past romantic adventures, I was entranced at the clinical realist precision of Balzac. I briefly dated a French woman in New York City who begged me to move with her to Marseilles where I would attend the University of Marseilles (she had magically already procured an application) at the expense of French taxpayers (what liberals call "universal education") so long...more
Kay
I read a majority of the poems in French, which made the experience more beautiful. Each word is like a unique brushstroke of color on a grand canvas, applied with varying degrees of pressure, and each deeply and sensually hued. Baudelaire’s poetry paints gorgeous images of emotion, desire, and wanting that remain with you. Reading Les fleurs was a deeply personal and stirring experience for me. I have many favorites and could provide analyses on a dozen poems or more, but for the sake of length...more
Lynn Beyrouthy
When it comes to the most beautiful literature in the world, I radically believe in the imperial prominence of Nineteenth century French literature.
Charles Baudelaire is one of the poets that tremendously alimented this conviction.

Originally entitled "Les Lesbiennes" and brazenly delineating sexuality and libidinous desires, the poems which Baudelaire composed in the decade of 1840-1850 were continuously censored until 1857, when his work was published with the title "Les Fleurs du Mal".

The be...more
Simona Bartolotta
'Epigrafe per un libro condannato'
Non scrissi, o lettore innocente,
pacifico e buon cittadino,
per te questo mio saturnino
volume, carnale e dolente.

Se ancora non hai del sapiente
Don Satana appreso il latino,
non farti del mio sibillino
delirio turbare la mente!

Ma leggimi e sappimi amare,
se osi nel gorgo profondo
discendere senza tremare.

O triste fratello errabondo
che cerchi il tuo cielo diletto,
compiangimi, o sii maledetto!

In realtà, tutta l'essenza de I fiori del male è perfettamente condensata in...more
Luís
In the mid-nineteenth century, a few years after the 1848 revolutions that spread across Europe, was released a book of poems that would later prove to be one of the great classics of world literature, were the Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire whose first edition was published in 1857.

Baudelaire was then already an important figure of the intellectual circles of Paris, a friend of painters such as Eugène Delacroix the romantic and the realist Gustave Courbet, and philosophers, such as the a...more
Lett'
Nous voilà devant l’œuvre la plus imposante de Baudelaire, c’est donc pour cela que je vous propose ma chronique. Je vous l’avoue tout de suite, je n’ai pas lu tout les poèmes présents dans ce recueil, mais seulement ce qui me paraissaient intéressants. Mais j’ai quand même essayer de lire au moins un poème par parties.

Ce poète a vraiment un talent incontestable, il réussit à nous faire un poème au sujet d’une charogne. Je pense que ce poème est le meilleur, car il explique que chaque belle chos...more
Nick Black
Some of the best poetry I've ever read -- Baudelaire is now likely my third favorite poet, right after T. S. Eliot (who is listed twice). These will be savored, reread, and recited all my life; ahhh, it's exciting to find new canon (I can certainly understand now why my main man J. Robert Oppenheimer listed this among his favorite books)! Man, even read in the original Frog (with which I'm not at all dextrous), one can tell that Baudelaire had something going on here. I can't believe it took thi...more
Geoff
At this point not much has to be said about the quality of the poems in Les Fleurs du Mal, and this is an especially beautiful translation. The monotypes and the complete original French text make this probably the essential version to have around.

I will add a caveat to this review. While I find Richard Howard's translations to be gorgeous and unique, they are indeed his interpretations, and he does take liberties with the text. An example is in "Reversibilite", where he omits the "Ange" which t...more
Lesfleurs Dumal
Oh yeah, lines like this make me feel like a kitten:

"When my leisurely fingers are stroking your head
And your body's elasticity
And my hand becomes drunk with the pleasure it finds
In the feel of electricity"

That feels good just thinking about it. Baudelaire is my fav!

Les F.
Chris
I read the French Flammarion version, but the Goodreads barcode scanner doesn't seem to recognize it (this is a common problem for me; the last five books I've read have not been in the Goodreads database.)

In any case, I am gradually working my way through the great 19th century French poets. I read Baudelaire's prose poems in "Le Spleen de Paris" shortly after moving to Paris, and now after a slow, meticulous reading of this book, I can say I've read his most famous works.

For a non-native spea...more
Leanna
I had no idea what to expect from this. I think maybe I was expecting something like Rimbaud, the only other French poet I've read-- a poetry very dreamy, surreal, and indeterminate (to use Marjorie Perloff's word--i.e., no correspondences in any identifiable reality). Instead, I found a wry, cynical, pessimistic poetry concerned with the macabre and the devious. Baudelaire was known for his French translations of Poe, and it shows! I found Baudelaire's poetry to be quite gothic--an obsession wi...more
Lix Hewett
I picked this up last July or something, but didn't really start reading until late January, so I guess it didn't take forever, but it was a close thing. It's not that it was boring or super complex or anything; my French is just awfully rusty, and it actually just took me three days (technically not that long, since I only worked on it for about ten minutes per day) to read Franciscae meae laudes because I somehow decided it would be a good idea to translate it myself. Anyway, it's a good, soli...more
Yani. S
Soy horrible analizando poesía, así que, por lo general, cuando me preguntan una opinión o me obligan a hacer una crítica, soy poco ortodoxa y hablo más de sensaciones que de procedimientos. Y a este libro le tenía un miedo particular porque está colocado en un pedestal literario.
Mientras pasaba las páginas de Las flores del mal sentía que iba a demorar mucho en salir de ellas, y así fue. Baudelaire habla de sí mismo, de los demás, de temas diversos y de Francia (si acotamos un poco más el esp...more
Nate D
I don;t really love Baudelaire. He's undeniably significant, hugely influential, and completely utterly florid and over-wrought. To be sure, his excesses offer much to savor at times, but I can't really feel any actual attachment or connection. Granted, the translation here may be at fault. This lovely mid-century illustrated edition (found by Maya at Book Thug Nation) is gorgeous to be sure, but the elegant lines of fin-de-siecle illustration have been paired with clumsily dated middle-english...more
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  • Illuminations
  • Poemes Saturniens
  • Alcools
  • Paroles
  • Collected Poems and Other Verse
  • Capital of Pain
  • Les Contemplations
  • Les Chants de Maldoror
  • The Poems of François Villon
  • Poems of Paul Celan
  • Duino Elegies
  • Canti
  • Selected Writings
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Charles Baudelaire was a 19th century French poet, translator, and literary and art critic whose reputation rests primarily on Les Fleurs du mal; (1857; The Flowers of Evil) which was perhaps the most important and influential poetry collection published in Europe in the 19th century. Similarly, his Petits poèmes en prose (1868; "Little Prose Poems") was the most successful and innovative early ex...more
More about Charles Baudelaire...
Paris Spleen Baudelaire: Poems On Wine and Hashish Flowers of Evil and Other Works/Les Fleurs du Mal et Oeuvres Choisies : A Dual-Language Book (Dover Foreign Language Study Guides) (English and French Edition) Baudelaire Rimbaud Verlaine: Selected Verse and Prose Poems

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“The Poet is a kinsman in the clouds
Who scoffs at archers, loves a stormy day;
But on the ground, among the hooting crowds,
He cannot walk, his wings are in the way.”
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“But the true voyagers are only those who leave
Just to be leaving; hearts light, like balloons,
They never turn aside from their fatality
And without knowing why they always say: "Let's go!”
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