Here, for the first time, the work of three of Frances greatest poets has been published in a single volume: the sensual and passionate glow of Charles Baudelaire, the desperate intensity and challenge of Arthur Rimbaud, and the absinthe-tinted symbolist songs of Paul Verlaine.
To bring the essence of these three giants of modern poetry to the American public, Joseph M. Bernstein, a noted interpreter and translator of French literature, has selected the most representative of their writings and presented them along with a biographical and critical introduction.
"Not to know these three poets", he points out, "is to deprive oneself of a pleasure as rare as it is indispensable to any real understanding of the aims and direction of modern literature.
The volume includes Arthur Symons' unabridged translation of Flowers of Evil and the Prose Poems of Baudelaire; Louise Varese's translation of Rimbaud's A Season in Hell and Prose Poems from "Illuminations"; J. Norman Cameron's translation of the verse from the Illuminations; and a representative selection from Verlaine's verse translated by Gertrude Hall and Arthur Symons.
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Charles-Pierre Baudelaire was born in Paris in 1821. His first publication was Le Salon de 1845, and he earned renown as an art critic and as a translator of Edgar Allan Poe. As a poet, his fame rests on Les Fleurs du mal. The collection was published in 1857, and certain poems were condemned as an offence against public morals; the book is now considered one of the masterpieces of nineteenth-century French literature. Baudelaire went to Brussels, where he hoped to earn money by lecturing; but his hopes foundered, his health gave way, and he was taken back to Paris, where he died in 1867.
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