Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Translation (The Who)

Besides his obvious literary gifts, can you think of a reason why the French so admire Edgar Allan Poe?

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7 thoughts on “Translation (The Who)

  1. There were not so many translations of American writers in French I guess!

    The famous French poet Charle Baudelaire, a contemporary, translated Poe (he was not the first one, but the best known one) and so launched him as a ‘poète maudit’ (cursed poet); he saw Poe as a mirror of himself. He also admired Poe’s litterary theories.

    Baudelaire’s influence in artistic circles was important ( even if he had trouble with religious and civil authorities – his ‘Flowers of Evil’ were considered as immoral). ‘The Raven’ and the’ Purloined Letter’ became a success (the latest one as a first detective story), so much so as attracting early psychoanalysts’ interest, Lacan amongst them later, whose famous ‘public lectures’ in the Sorbonne were all the rage in the years 1970, thus ensuring Poe’s continuous celebrity.

    All the best,

    Lou (French-speaking Belgian!)

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  2. Baudelaire as a translator is bound to do Poe justice.

    I’m curious about the French that Baudelaire uses in his translation of Poe. Can a French speaker still enjoy it or does it seem dated?

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  3. I just re-read ‘Le corbeau’ (the raven) in French (2 versions: Baudelaire and Mallarmé) with an eye on the English text.

    There is music, rythm, and emotion in the Baudelaire translation in French.
    Of course, the language is dated (many subjunctives – very elegant to my 66 yr old ears), but then, Poe’s language is not exactly contemporary either…
    I prefer Baudelaire’s to Mallarmé’s text: he is sometimes much less litteral, but the image suggested is right and his music is enchanting!

    Of course, I prefer the original ;)

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  4. I won’t sully your blog with my ugly Francophobia. However, I will point out that they’re awfully fond of Jerry Lewis, too, so that doesn’t say much.

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  5. Your consideration is much appreciated.

    I hope your Francophobia doesn’t affect your appreciation of my novel!

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  6. Quick answer: NO.
    But much of French critical appreciation is opaque to other nationalities.
    They are VERY stylish, though! And I love the food. So they love Poe, and Jerry Lewis. Everyone’s entitled to their bizarrerie. (Not sure if it’s a French word, but it should be.)

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