The Flowers of Evil
Charles Baudelaire, translated by Keith Waldrop
This new translation of Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs du Mal), Baudelaire’s incredibly influential and controversial collection, restores the “banned poems,” although they’re relegated to the final section. A respected poet in his own right and a translator of French with the chops to be named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Keith Waldrop knows what he’s doing; these are wonderful, if gritty, translations. Yes, Baudelaire is a favorite of angst-filled, black-clad undergraduates, but he’s also the poet who broke free of Romanticism to make poetry of reality’s flesh and filth. And in addition to all that, he introduced the concept of the lesbian as vampire, thereby leading to a spate of campy horror films. No matter how you bite into it, Baudelaire is bound to get the blood pumping.