[Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) circa 1862 – Photograph by Etienne Carjat]
(Actually, we just finished celebrating Billie Holiday on the occasion, this past Tuesday, of her centennial, but today it’s Charles Baudelaire - April 9, the anniversary of the birth of Charles Baudelaire).
November 1957, three years previously, Allen’s in Paris, writing to Jack Kerouac:
“Not yet explored Paris, just inches, still to make solemn visits to cemeteries Père Lachaise and visit Apollinaire’s menhir (MENHIR) and Montparnasse to Baudelaire.”
[Baudelaire's grave in Cimetière de Montparnasse, Paris]
Allen Ginsberg to David Cope, January 1977, almost twenty years later:
“I once read a lot of Baudelaire + my Angel kid [sic] has read every translation – apparently, if you don’t know French (I do) you have to read all the translations to get a good idea”
Multiple translations of Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil) (1857) are available (along with much more) here at Fleursdumal.org
We’ve always been partial to Nicholas Moore’s thirty-one different versions of the same Baudelaire poem (quite an achievement!)
Jim Nisbet’s Baudelaire versions (our current favorites) still haven’t been published and deserve to be seen in book form. A brief selection of them, however, may be seen here
The W.T.Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies in Nashville, Tennessee is an invaluable resource.
Allen in a lecture at the New York Public Library in 1987 – (included in the 1991 collection, Deliberate Prose):
“Kerouac and I, following Arthur Rimbaud and Baudelaire, our great-grandfathers among hermetic poets and philosophers, were experimenting naively with what we thought of as “new reality” or supreme reality”….
”The tradition [of direct treatment of the subject] was initiated by Baudelaire, who had updated the poetic consciousness of the nineteenth-century to include the city, real estate, houses, carriages, traffic, machinery..”
Allen’s discarded early poem, “The Last Voyage” – “I knew the pit of Baudelaire” – “Others have voyaged far, have sailed/On waves that wash beyond the world”, owing perhaps a little too much to Rimbaud and Baudelaire (but later he subsumed the influence)
Then, of course, there’s the Baudelaire-Poe connection. Allen on Poe – here, here and here
Remembering Charles Baudelaire today - one-hundred-and-ninety-four years on.