National Book Award Winner in poetry. Charles Baudelaire’s 1857 masterwork, translated into English by acclaimed poet Richard Howard, along with the original French text.
Scandalous in its day for its portrayals of sex, love, death, the corrupting and oppressive power of the modern city and lost innocence, Les Fleurs Du Mal remains powerful and relevant for our time.
In “Spleen et idéal,” Baudelaire dramatizes the erotic cycle of ecstacy and anguish—of sexual and romantic love. “Tableaux Parisiens” condemns the crushing effects of urban planning on a city’s soul and praises the city’s anti-heroes including the deranged and derelict. “Le Vin” centers on the search for oblivion in drink and drugs. The many kinds of love that lie outside traditional morality is the focus of “Fleurs du Mal” while rebellion is at the heart of “Révolte.”
The voice of Baudelaire lives in this masterful translation. “Richard Howard, generally esteemed as the finest American translator from the French of the postwar era, offers a new version of this masterpiece,” wrote The Washington Post. “It is the English edition to acquire.”
Baudelaire revoiced…Howard’s achievement is such that we can be confident that his Flowers of Evil will long stand as definitive, a superb guide to France’s greatest poet.
Readers of English do not have to take Baudelaire on faith any longer. For the first time he is present among us, vivid and surprisingly intact, in these fine translations.
—New York Times Book Review
A deft and patient new translation of Les Fleurs Du Mal…Howard, it seems to me, has done what he has set out to, has given us, in English and in verse, a Baudelaire both immediately recognizable and impressively varied…It is a considerable achievement.
—New York Review of Books
A magnificent achievement…should be the English version for a long time to come.
Not until now has there been an edition of the entire work which successfully captures the distinctive voice of Baudelaire…The level of success among 151 lyrics is so high as to guarantee that Richard Howard’s will be the definitive translation in the foreseeable future.
[An] intelligent responsiveness to the poem’s meaning informs almost every translation in this volume.