One of the frustrations, the challenges, the problems – and probably the joys – of translating Baudelaire’s poetry is choosing the correct idiom to translate into.
Taking the words, sentences, phrases, lines, from the language of one country and translating them into the corresponding or equivalent language of another country is the type of work that can be done by almost anyone.
However, choosing the absolutely perfect cultural, social, geographical, spatial, historical, temporal and linguistic framework to put the translated words onto is another matter entirely, and will very much depend on the translator’s intentions and the receptive vocabulary of the proposed readership.
And when it’s poetry that is being translated, the task becomes even more complicated; the problems suddenly multiply. Read more…
R J Dent says: ‘I found translating Charles Baudelaire’s influential poetry collection Les Fleurs du Mal from French into modern English to be a rewarding, but challenging experience. This essay outlines some of the challenges and joys of the translation process.’
R J Dent’s English translation of The Flowers of Evil is available at:
On Translating Baudelaire
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