Teaching Baudelaire: Edward Kaplan’s New Edition of Les Fleurs du Mal/Flowers of Evil

Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal/Flowers of Evil (1861) is known around the world as one of the most important collections of modern poetry. Influenced by Romanticism, Baudelaire (1821-1867) is not only an exquisite poet, but also one of the founders of modernism and the philosopher of modernity. Les Fleurs du Mal simultaneously evokes classic beauty and urban sensibility; true love and decadence; youth and decay; idealism and cynicism: all this and much more in one intoxicating bouquet of poems.

As contemporary as some these themes may be in the openness of our culture, Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal can also seem daunting and distant to American students who may have little background in nineteenth-century French culture or may need some help decoding the nuances of Baudelaire’s rich vocabulary.

Professor Edward K. Kaplan’s new and exciting edition of Baudelaire’s poems  bridges the temporal and linguistic gap between American students today and nineteenth-century France. His European Masterpieces Edition of Les Fleurs du Mal (Newwark, Delaware: Lingua Text, Ltd., 2010) includes a biographical and cultural introduction to Baudelaire and his times; translations of terms that American students are not likely to know, supplemented by a French-English glossary that offers more helpful translations of key terms. This accessible yet erudite edition of Les Fleurs du Mal, by a leading Baudelaire scholar and translator, will make Francophiles out of new generations of American students.

Claudia Moscovici, literaturesalon

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Filed under 19th century, Baudelaire, book review, Charles Baudelaire, Edward K. Kaplan, Les Fleurs du Mal, literary criticism, literature salon, modernism, Romantic aesthetics, Romantic poetry, Romanticism

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