NTA Longlist: Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire, trans. by Jan Owen (Arc Publications)

Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du Mal
by Charles Baudelaire
translated from the French by Jan Owen
(Arc Publications)

Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du MalAny new translation of Charles Baudelaire’s landmark collection Les fleurs du mal will be subject to the inevitable comparison to the many translations that precede it. But any new translation of a classic work is also a product of its translator’s time.  In this respect, Jan Owen writes, translations are “interim hybrids,” and this outlook shapes Owen’s “re-creation” of Baudelaire’s poems.  In Owen’s twenty-first century English, the lines and rhymes of Baudelaire’s “strange music” jolt and dazzle with an urgency and currency that speaks to our contemporary economic and social realities, as they did in his own century.

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