American versions by Leslie H. Whitten, Jr.
Chapbook, 48 pgs., $7.00
“Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), was certainly a genius, regarded as such from high school to the time of his death. His unnumerable biographers have also called him the greatest of all French poets, rivaled since the Greeks only by Shakespeare and Goethe; “a bored satanist;” “a tragic sophist;” “a modern Dante;” a fanatic, a failure and a triumphant success.
Whatever he was, his poems achieve a wrenching clarity quite at odds with the train wreck of his personal life. His history seems a dark, turbulent sky on which the lightning of his poems was projected. The magnificent thunder still rumbles.
For some of us, Baudelaire, like a skilled psychotherapist, has changed our lives, peeled away our pretensions and then laid bare the genesis and the meaning of our rawest emotions.” -Leslie H. Whitten Jr., in The Introduction
“You will find here a poet-translator who steers between the dangers of expansive ego and slavish transcription. Whitten has not just captured the recurrent symbols and images that express Baudelaire’s deep thematics, but he has found the rare and fragile metric and lyric devices to orchestrate and give nuance to the extraordinarily varied Fleurs.” -Maurice A. O’Meara, Ph.D., Poet Laureate of France
“Whitten’s book, with Baudelaire’s references to. . . the seamy side of life will shock you, as Baudelaire must have intended. If you have the stomach for it, I recommend it. It’s all here, just as Baudelaire wrote it.” –The Piedmont Literary Review, of Whitten’s earlier translations, Sad Madrigals
“These splendid translations, all true to the original meter and rhyming – creative – pure – refined – lead us to the authentic, somberly erotic Baudelaire.” -Sophy Burnham, best-selling author of A Book of Angels
“Intense, sometimes darkly comic and always wise, these are the best of Baudelaire for the reader in English.” -Roderick MacLeish, novelist, broadcast commentator & critic
“I have had Baudelaire’s work on my shelf for decades and always felt intimidated by the obligation to educate myself by reading his work but I never did. This pamphlet takes away the burden of coping with a monument.” -Kirby Congdon
“The result of Mr. Whitten’s efforts is true to the feel and spirit of the poems – and is, in fact, quite fluid, graceful and capable of making one forget indeed that these are translations from another language.” -Phil Wagner, Iconoclast