Lorraine's Reviews > The Flowers of Evil

The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
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's review
Apr 23, 2011

really liked it

[wrong translator probably, but mine is james mcgowan]

I thought this was amazing and amazingly perceptive. I can scarcely believe that it was written in the 19th C. My French is too poor to read it entirely in French -- the English is alright -- but from the little I know the French packs so much more kick. Whatever possessed James McGowan, for instance, to translate "et demain, apres-demain et toujours" (from "Le Masque") into "tomorrow, everyday"? I didn't give it 5 stars because I am quite incapable of appreciating the French entirely. Much of the poetry gets lost in translation -- the sense is there -- but the beauty of the sound, etc -- much of that is lost. Also, for all of Baudelaire's incredible perceptiveness and intelligence, he uses the exclamination mark a bit too often for my liking. I suppose it's part of his aesthetic -- and it makes sense too -- shock, trauma etc -- a screaming (the last lyric poet? as benjamin claims?) but I don't like it. Just it resonates in my head as being overdramatic, although THAT would mean falling into one of his many ironic traps. Baudelaire truly understands irony, and plays with it, in my opinion, as few other poets can (especially lyric poets!). Regardless of whether one likes this book or not, I think one has to read it, or else miss out on one of the major works of literature.

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Quotes Lorraine Liked

Charles Baudelaire
“I love to watch the fine mist of the night come on,
The windows and the stars illumined, one by one,
The rivers of dark smoke pour upward lazily,
And the moon rise and turn them silver. I shall see
The springs, the summers, and the autumns slowly pass;
And when old Winter puts his blank face to the glass,
I shall close all my shutters, pull the curtains tight,
And build me stately palaces by candlelight.”
Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal

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