Maggie Emmett's Reviews > The Flowers of Evil

The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
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's review
Nov 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: poetry, french
Read in February, 2015

** spoiler alert ** I have recently (March 2015) re-read the Oxford World's Classics edition of Les Fleurs du Mal with its excellent introduction by Jonathan Culler and the translation by Professor James mCGowan. It is the best translation I've read and it reminded me why I loved this book.
Spent lots of time reading the french aloud and enjoying the delicious sounds. The conservatism of the poetic form is more easily realised in the french.
Yet this poetry still presents a distinct, modern experience. I love that it can take banal, prosaic and even disgusting subjects and ideas and give them new, bold, exciting poetic life.
The poet can praise the lover's eyes and her saliva; compare the sky to a pot's lid - these are 'dissonant combinations' as rich as Donne or Eliot. Yet as synaestheic and romantic in places as Keats.
He is the poet of the city. He is a master of tone and irony. He shows a way to survive the disintegration and depersonalisation of the self in the modern world he faced, via poetic consciousness - his solution. He shows us how to experience and come to terms with an alienated self in the modern world.
Baudelaire is the 'poet as social misfit'.
As TSEliot said:'Baudelaire is indeed the greatest exemplar in modern poetry in any language, for his verse and language is the nearest thing to complete renovation that we have experienced.But his renovation of an attitude towards life is no less radical and no less important'
It is important to see him through the eyes of early modernists who admired and followed him to realise the profound effect he had on all their work.
But we can read this amazing array of poems and gorge on the images, the sensuality, the poignancy, the humour and the rich urban beauty and ENJOY - even today.
It is so important to read old books again and re-live their pleasure and deepen the experience with your older eyes of wonder.
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10/07/2016 marked as: read

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