Baudelaire on Poe: Critical Papers

Baudelaire on Poe: Critical Papers

Baudelaire on Poe: Critical Papers

Baudelaire on Poe: Critical Papers

Excerpt

Students of Baudelaire or Poe are well aware that the translations by the French poet have made the American writer a vital part of European literary experience. So distinguished and so well known are these translations that Rémy de Gourmont believed they alone would have assured Baudelaire a place in the history of French literature.

Baudelaire's critical essays on Poe, although recognized in the Literary History of the United States as "criticism of the finest quality," are comparatively unread in this country. Written to introduce his American contemporary to the French public, full of boundless enthusiasm and warm emotion, they reveal an acute critical perception of Poe's literary qualities, and a fervent admiration and love for one whom Baudelaire believed to be his spiritual brother.

Baudelaire himself had hoped to publish his Poe essays in a limited edition, but his hope failed to materialize. His second essay, written in 1856, was translated as the introduction to a British edition of Poe's works published in London in 1872 by Chatto and Windus. The translator, H. C. Curwen, was apparently the first person to make a small portion of Baudelaire's criticism available in English. Curwen's translation has long been out of print and suffers from a few omissions and errors. Since 1872 no other effort has been made to translate any of these three essays. This edition, sug-

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