Twenty Prose Poems

ISBN-10: 087286216X
ISBN-13: 9780872862166
Edition: Revised 
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Description: From the introduction by Michael Hamburger: "Baudelaire's prose poems were written at long intervals during the last twelve or thirteen years of his life. The prose poem was a medium much suited to his habits and character. Being pre-eminently a  More...

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Book details

List price: $12.95
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publication date: 1/1/2001
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 64
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.00" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.242

From the introduction by Michael Hamburger: "Baudelaire's prose poems were written at long intervals during the last twelve or thirteen years of his life. The prose poem was a medium much suited to his habits and character. Being pre-eminently a moralist, he needed a medium that enabled him to illustrate a moral insight as briefly and vividly as possible. Being an artist and sensualist, he needed a medium that was epigrammatic or aphoristic, but allowed him scope for fantasy and for that element of suggestiveness which he considered essential to beauty. His thinking about society and politics, as about everything else, was experimental; like the thinking of most poets it drew on experience and imagination, rather than on facts and general arguments. That is another reason why the prose poem proved a medium so congenial to Baudelaire."

Charles Baudelaire, 1821 - 1867 Charles Baudelaire had perhaps had an immeasurable impact on modern poetry. He was born on April 9, 1821, to Joseph-Francois Baudelaire and Caroline Archimbaut Dufays in Paris. He was educated first at a military boarding school and then the College Louis-le-Grand, where he was later expelled in 1839. Baudelaire then began to study law, at the Ecole de Droit in Paris, but devoted most of his time to debauchery. After an abortive trip to the East, he settled in Paris and lived on an inheritance from his much despised step father, while he wrote poetry. During this period he met Jeanne Duval, a mulatto with whom he fell in love with and who became the "Black Venus," the muse behind some of his most powerful erotic verse. Baudelaire strove to portray sensual experiences and moods through complex imagery and classical form, avoiding sentimentality and objective description. Thus he profoundly influenced the later French symbolist writers, including Mallarme and Rimbaud, and such English-language poets as Yeats, Eliot, and Stevens. With much of his inheritance squandered, Baudelaire turned to journalism, especially art and literary criticism, the first of which were "Les Salons". Here he discovered the work of Edgar Allan Poe, which became an influence on his own poetry. While continuing to write unpublished verse, Baudelaire became famous as critic and translator of Poe. This reputation enabled Baudelaire to publish his most famous collection of poetry, "Les Fleurs du Mal" (The Flowers of Evil) in 1857. The result was an obscenity trial and the banning of six of the poems. Though he continued to write journalism with some success, he became increasingly depressed and pessimistic. Baudelaire attempted suicide in 1845, an attempt to get attention, and became minorly involved in the French Revolution. Today Baudelaire's work is considered the "last brilliant summation of romanticism, precursor of symbolism and the first expression of modern techniques". It was his originality that set him apart and ultimately proved to be his end. Baudelaire died, apparently from complications of syphilis, on August 31, 1867, in Paris.

Michael Hamburger was born on March 22, 1924 in Berlin, Germany. His family moved to the United Kingdom in 1933 as Adolf Hitler was coming to power. He attended Christ Church, Oxford, where he read modern languages (French and German). During World War II, he was drafted in the army as an infantryman. After the war, he held a series of teaching positions, initially in Germanic studies, on both sides of the Atlantic, including University College London, Reading University, Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, and the University of California at San Diego. He was the author of more than 20 volumes of poetry and many volumes of essays including Flowering Cactus, Collected Poems, and String of Beginnings. He was also a critic and translator of German works. He received numerous translation awards including the Schlegel-Tieck Prize, the Goethe Medal in 1986, and the European Translation Prize in 1990. He died on June 7, 2007 at the age of 83.

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