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For sheer reading pleasure and fidelity to its source, this entirely new translation of Baudelaire’s magnum opus is matchless. With admirable disregard for the fashionable cliché according to which poetry is fundamentally “untranslatable,” Eric Gans works from the startling premise that the greatest French poet of the nineteenth century can indeed be rendered in English without significant loss of meaning or effect. His daring approach involves sticking as closely as possible to the French original, combining the translator’s modesty with a remarkable poetic talent, in order to showcase not his own ingenuity but Baudelaire’s distinctive vision. Poetry lovers and students of French literature alike will applaud the result.
Trevor Merrill, Lecturer in French, California Institute of Technology
Eric Gans is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of French and Francophone Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he taught 19th-century French literature for 45 years. He is the author of two critical studies on Flaubert, including Madame Bovary: The End of Romance (G.K. Hall, 1989), and (in French) of book-length essays on Alfred de Musset and Prosper Mérimée. His theoretical works include Signs of Paradox: Irony, Resentment, and Other Mimetic Structures (Stanford University Press, 1997) and A New Way of Thinking: Generative Anthropology in Religion, Philosophy, Art (The Davies Group, 2011). He lives in Santa Monica, California.