Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category

Jean Genet (1910-1986)

August 10, 2016

Jean Genet (19 December, 1910-15 April, 1986) was a French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and political activist.

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Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but he later took to writing.

Throughout his five early novels, Genet works to subvert the traditional set of moral values of his assumed readership. He celebrates a beauty in evil, emphasizes his singularity, raises violent criminals to icons, and enjoys the specificity of gay gesture and coding and the depiction of scenes of brutality and betrayal.

NOVELS:

By 1949, Genet had completed five novels, three plays, and numerous poems, many of them considered controversial for their explicit and often deliberately provocative portrayal of homosexuality and criminality.

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Our Lady of the Flowers (Notre Dame des Fleurs, 1943) is a journey through the prison underworld, featuring a fictionalized alter-ego by the name of Divine, usually referred to in the feminine, at the center of a circle of queens with colourful sobriquets such as Mimosa I, Mimosa II, First Communion and the Queen of Rumania.

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The Miracle of the Rose (Miracle de la rose, 1946) is a fictionalized autobiography which describes Genet’s time in Mettray Penal Colony.

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The Thief’s Journal (Journal du voleur, 1949) is also a fictionalized autobiography and it describes Genet’s experiences as a vagabond and prostitute, as he wanders across Europe.

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Querelle of Brest (Querelle de Brest, 1947) is the story of a murder set in the midst of the port town of Brest, where sailors treat life with brutal carelessness.

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Funeral Rites (Pompes funèbres, 1949) is a story of love and betrayal across political divides, inspired by the death of the narrator’s lover, Jean Decarnin, who was killed by the Germans during the Second World War.

PLAYS:

Jean Genet’s plays present highly stylized depictions of ritualistic struggles between outcasts of various kinds and their oppressors. Social identities are parodied and shown to involve complex layering through manipulation of the dramatic fiction and its inherent potential for theatricality and role-play.

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In The Maids (1947), the eponymous maids imitate one another and their mistress.

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In Deathwatch (Haute Surveillance, 1947), three prisoners are locked up in the same cell. One is to be guillotined. Confinement traps each of them in solitude and immense unhappiness, which lends them a certain dignity.

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Splendid’s (1948) is a full-length drama, and

Her (Elle, 1955) is a one-act play.

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In The Balcony (1957), the clients of a brothel simulate roles of political power before, in a dramatic reversal, actually becoming those figures, all surrounded by mirrors that both reflect and conceal.

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In The Blacks (1959), Genet offers a critical dramatization of what Aimé Césaire called negritude, presenting a violent assertion of Black identity and anti-white virulence framed in terms of mask-wearing and roles adopted and discarded.

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The Screens (1961), Genet’s most overtly political play, is an epic account of the Algerian War of Independence.

NON-FICTION:

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Genet wrote an essay on the work of the Swiss sculptor and artist Alberto Giacometti entitled The Studio of Alberto Giacometti (L’Atelier d’Alberto Giacometti, 1957).

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It was highly praised by Giacometti himself and by Pablo Picasso. Genet wrote in an informal style, incorporating excerpts of conversations between himself and Giacometti.

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Prisoner of Love (Un Captif Amoureux, 1986) is a memoir of Genet’s encounters with Palestinian fighters and Black Panthers. In 1970, he had spent two years in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. Visiting Beirut in September 1982, Genet found himself in the midst of the Israeli invasion of the city. He was one of the first foreigners to enter Shatila refugee camp after the massacre of hundreds of its inhabitants.

POETRY:

Genet also wrote several poems.

  • “The Man Condemned to Death” (“Le Condamné à Mort”) (written in 1942, first published in 1945)
  • “Funeral March” (“Marche Funebre”) (1945)
  • “The Galley” (“La Galere”) (1945)
  • “A Song of Love” (“Un Chant d’Amour”) (1946)
  • “The Fisherman of the Suquet” (“Le Pecheur du Suquet”) (1948)
  • “The Parade” (“La Parade”) (1948)

These poems have been translated into English by Jeremy Reed and George Messo and published as Jean Genet: The Complete Poems.

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Jean Genet developed throat cancer and was found dead on 15 April 1986, in a hotel room in Paris. He is buried in the Spanish Cemetery in Larache, Morocco.

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ca. 1980-1997, Larache, Morocco --- Jean Genet's Grave on the Coast --- Image by © K.M. Westermann/CORBIS

Jean Genet’s books are available at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jean-Genet/e/B000APBLYE

Follow R J Dent’s work on:

Website: http://www.rjdent.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/R.-J.-Dent/e/B0034Q3RD4

Blog: https://rjdent.wordpress.com/

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On Translating Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal into English – by R J Dent

January 10, 2015

flowers of evil - r j dent - baudelaire

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…

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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:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flowers-Evil-Artificial-Paradise-Nocturnal/dp/0979984777/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

flowers of evil - r j dent - baudelaire

 

On Translating Baudelaire

Copyright © R J Dent (2007 & 2016)

 

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website: http://www.rjdent.com/

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Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil translated by R J Dent

October 7, 2013

 

Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles Baudelaire’s seminal classic, The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs du Mal) is now available in R J Dent’s modern English translation:

 

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R J Dent discusses his translation of Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil:

 

 

R J Dent reads ‘I give you these verses…’ from his translation of Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil:

 

 

A promotional book trailer for R J Dent’s modern English translation of Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil:

 

 

 

R J Dent’s translation of The Flowers of Evil is available from the University of Chicago Press:

http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/F/bo10734555.html

and from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flowers-Evil-Artificial-Paradise-Nocturnal/dp/0979984777/ref=la_B0034Q3RD4_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381152776&sr=1-2

 

 

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In R J Dent’s Library – Philippe Djian’s 37°2 le matin (Betty Blue)

October 3, 2013

A look in R J Dent’s library at the novel 37°2  le matin (the basis of the film, Betty Blue) by Philippe Djian.

 

 

In R J Dent’s Library – Philippe Djian’s 37°2  le matin

 

Text (c) R J Dent (2013)

Film (c) R J Dent (2013)

 

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Gustave Flaubert

July 25, 2011

 

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), was a French novelist perhaps known best for his novel Madame Bovary (1857).

 

 

 

Flaubert was born in Rouen, France on 12 December 1821, the fifth of six children in a family of doctors.

 

In the 1830s Flaubert attended the Collége Royal de Rouen, writing for its newspaper, reading Shakespeare, travelling extensively and beginning his own writings.

 

His first finished work was November, a novella, which was completed in 1842.

 

 

 

In September 1849, Flaubert completed the first version of The Temptation of Saint Anthony. He read the novel aloud to Louis Bouilhet and Maxime Du Camp over the course of four days, not allowing them to interrupt or give any opinions. At the end of the reading, his friends told him to throw the manuscript in the fire, suggesting instead that he focus on day-to-day life rather than fantastic subjects.

 

In 1850, after returning from Egypt, Flaubert began work on Madame Bovary. The novel, which took five years to write, was serialized in the Revue de Paris in 1856. The government brought an action against the publisher and author on the charge of immorality, which was heard during the following year, but both were acquitted. When Madame Bovary appeared in book form, it met with a warm reception.

 

Flaubert embarked on a trip to Egypt and the Far East with fellow writer Maxime Du Camp in 1851, sending home a varied assortment of exotic souvenirs. Nearly thirty years old he then took the next five years to write Madame Bovary, working mostly at night, having it published in six instalments by Du Camp’s literary journal Revue de Paris. The ensuing moral outrage in 1857 caused him to be (unsuccessfully) prosecuted on moral grounds.

 

In 1858, Flaubert travelled to Carthage to gather material for his next novel, Salammbô. The novel was completed in 1862 after four years of work.

 

Drawing on his youth, Flaubert next wrote L’Éducation sentimentale (Sentimental Education), an effort that took seven years. His last complete novel, it was published in 1869.

 

 

Flaubert then published a reworked version of The Temptation of Saint Anthony, portions of which had been published as early as 1857.

 

 

Flaubert wrote the Three Tales in 1877. This book comprised three stories: Un Cœur simple (A Simple Heart), La Légende de Saint-Julien l’Hospitalier (The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller), and Hérodias (Herodias).

 

After the publication of the stories, he spent the remainder of his life toiling on the unfinished Bouvard et Pécuchet, which was a grand satire on the futility of human knowledge and the ubiquity of mediocrity. It was posthumously printed in 1881 and received lukewarm reviews.

 

 

Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues (The Dictionary of Received/Accepted Ideas) is a short satirical work collected and published in 1911-13 from notes compiled by Flaubert during the 1870s, lampooning the clichés endemic to French society.

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At the time of Flaubert’s death, it was unclear whether he intended eventually to publish The Dictionary… separately, or as an appendix to his unfinished novel, Bouvard et Pécuchet. In some of his notes, it seems that Flaubert intended The Dictionary… to be taken as the final creation of the two protagonists.

 

Flaubert’s letters have been collected in several volumes.

His notes, letters and journal entries written during his sojourn in Egypt have been collated, edited and published as Flaubert in Egypt:

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Gustave Flaubert is buried at Rouen Cemetery in Normandy, France.

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Works:

November

Madame Bovary

Salammbô.

Sentimental Education

The Temptation of St. Antony

Three Tales

Bouvard and Pécuchet

A Dictionary of Received/Accepted Ideas

Letters

Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour

Gustave Flaubert’s books are available at:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gustave-Flaubert/e/B00TVHD2LW/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1465164828&sr=1-2-ent

Follow R J Dent’s writing on:

www.rjdent.com

 

Charles Baudelaire’s The Abyss

July 10, 2010

Here’s Charles Baudelaire’s The Abyss.


Charles Baudelaire's The Abyss translated by R J Dent

The poem is from R J Dent’s translation of The Flowers of Evil, published by Solar Books.


Charles Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil translated by R J Dent


Details can be found here: http://www.solarbooks.org/solar-titles/flowersofevil.html


The Abyss has been set to music by the Finnish composer/musician Outi Tarkiainen.


The first performance of The Abyss was in Helsinki in September 2009.


Here’s the video clip:


Translation © R J Dent 2009/Music © Outi Tarkiainen 2009

And here are the lyrics:


Charles Baudelaire’s The Abyss


Pascal had his abyss that followed him.

Everything is abyss: action, desire, dream – word.

I feel the wind of fear pass frequently

through my thick hair, which often stands on end,

up and down, everywhere, into the depths,

through silence, space, captivating, ugly…

During my nights, a god with clever hands

draws never-ending multi-shaped nightmares

and I’m afraid of sleep – it’s a big hole

full of horrors that lead to the unknown.

Windows show me infinity. Seeing

it, my hurt mind suffers from vertigo.

How I envy the sense of nothingness;

I’m never free of numbers or of beings.

Translation © R J Dent (2009)


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Charles Baudelaire’s The Albatross

July 10, 2010

Charles Baudelaire's The Albatross translated by R J Dent

Here’s Charles Baudelaire’s The Albatross.


The poem is from R J Dent’s translation of The Flowers of Evil, published by Solar Books.


The Flowers of Evil & Artificial Paradise by Charles Baudelaire translated by R J Dent

More details can be found here: http://www.solarbooks.org/solar-titles/flowersofevil.html


The Albatross has been set to music by the Finnish composer/musician Outi Tarkiainen.


The first performance was in Helsinki in September 2009.


Here’s the video clip:



Translation © R J Dent 2009/Music © Outi Tarkiainen 2009


And here are the lyrics:


The Albatross


Often, for amusement, the sailing crew

catch that bird of the seas – the albatross;

companion on our voyage, it follows

the ship as it slides through the sea’s abyss.


When this once-great sky king has been dumped,

awkward and ashamed, onto the ship’s boards,

it pitifully drags its great white wings

along its feathered sides like useless oars.


This graceful voyager through shades of blue,

once beautiful, is now clumsy and weak;

one sailor mocks the cripple who once flew,

another stubs a pipe out on its beak.


The poet is just like this prince of clouds;

beyond range, above storms – these are his haunts;

exiled on Earth amidst a jeering crowd,

his giant wings won’t permit him to walk.


Translation © R J Dent (2009)


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Gérard de Nerval: The Disinherited

May 31, 2009

Translated by R J Dent

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I’m sorrowful, widowed, disconsolate,

the Prince of Aquitaine whose tower’s in ruins;

my lone star’s dead – my constellated lute

carries a black and melancholy sun.


In the night of the grave, you consoled me;

gave me Naples and the Italian sea;

the flower that so pleased my distressed heart;

the arbour where the vine and rose entwine.


Am I Cupid or Phoebus?… Lusignan or Byron?

My forehead’s still burning from the queen’s kiss;

I’ve dreamed in the caves where the sirens swim…


Twice victorious, I’ve crossed Acheron;

modulating – on Orpheus’s lyre –

the sigh of the saint and the fairy’s cry.


The Disinherited

By Gérard de Nerval

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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Paris, Baudelaire, Beckett, Moonstone Silhouettes, the Seine and the Three Graces

January 11, 2009


Paris in December, 2008. Visiting Charles Baudelaire’s grave was paramount. I put my translation of Baudelaire’s poem Landscape on his grave. I covered it with a copy of the cover of my recently-published translation of Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil & Artificial Paradise.

The Flowers of Evil (Translated by R J Dent)


It was a very moving moment, made all the more poignant by the fact that a steady stream of people visited his grave. People came in ones and twos to pay their respects and/or leave offerings. I knew Baudelaire was considered an important literary figure in France, one who is still ignored and derided in England, but I had no idea that he was so revered by the French.

Charles Baudelaire


There are three names on the gravestone, there being just the one stone for the family plot. The name at the top is Jacques Aupick, Baudelaire’s stepfather, a man that Baudelaire hated. Next is Charles Baudelaire’s name. Beneath his name is Caroline Archenbaut Defayes, Baudelaire’s mother, a woman he loved dearly.

Baudelaire should really be in his own grave and have his own gravestone. Either that or a new stone should be cut that puts Charles Baudelaire’s name at the top – after all, he’s the reason that people go to that particular grave.

Charles Baudelaire's grave © 2009 R J Dent archive

In the same cemetery, I found Samuel Beckett’s grave.

Samuel Beckett's grave © 2009 R J Dent Archive


It was simple and unadorned. And no one visited it. It was all very Beckett-ian.

Samuel Beckett


Later that day I walked along the left bank of the Seine, then had coffee and croissants in a riverside café.

Seine (left bank) ©  2009 R J Dent archive


Continuing my theme of pretention, I spent a part of that day proof-reading and editing my latest poetry collection, Moonstone Silhouettes. The collection needed proofing and editing so I took it with me to France, simply so that I would always know that it had been edited in Paris. Now Moonstone Silhouettes will always be tinged with memories of Paris, December 2008.

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On another day I went into the Louvre and stood in front of the Three Graces. It’s my favourite sculpture. I found it by accident – having forgotten it was in the Louvre. I was wandering through the less-crowded rooms, trying to avoid the Mona Lisa/Venus de Milo/Da Vinci Code mob – and doing a very good job of it – when I went into a cool, spacious room and almost fell over the Three Graces. There they were – right in front of me – and all three looking quite lovely too. Obviously I wanted to touch them and I did reach out a hand – but at the last minute, sense, or lack of nerve, prevailed and I stood there simply staring in awe at those beautiful stone nymphs.

The Three Graces - Louvre


Obviously there’s a lot more, but that’s all I’m sharing at present. Paris was wonderful, a delightful experience, full of wonders, marvels and deep emotions. Every time I stepped outside in Paris, I could feel the air crackle with the electricity of life.

Paris at night ©  2009 R J Dent archive


Paris is a city for the eternally young. I will go back – and I’ll probably edit and proof-read another book of mine while I’m there. I might even touch the Three Graces. They won’t mind.

Au revoir.


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© R J Dent (2009)

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Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil & Artificial Paradise translated by R J Dent is available from:

http://www.amazon.com/Flowers-Artificial-Paradise-Solar-Nocturnal/dp/0979984777/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239004510&sr=1-14

or:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flowers-Artificial-Paradise-Solar-Nocturnal/dp/0979984777/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1217774414&sr=1-1


Moonstone Silhouettes by R J Dent is available from:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moonstone-Silhouettes-R-J-Dent-ebook/dp/B004MME1GG/ref=la_B0034Q3RD4_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394900815&sr=1-6

Moonstone Silhouettes

December 25, 2008

Moonstone Silhouettes by R J Dent

This is R J Dent’s latest poetry collection, entitled Moonstone Silhouettes.

R J Dent says: ‘In this collection, which I edited in Paris, I’ve focussed mostly on the ethereal and the mystical, although there are a few elegies for lost friends, and one or two poems in praise of major writers who have influenced me.’

‘The landscapes that I describe range from the exotic (Ancient Greece and modern France) to the bizarre and the out-and-out surreal. The characters that I describe are often strange and other-worldly.’

Included in this new collection are translations of poems by Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, Ibycus and Sappho. There are also elegies for four great writers: Jean Genet, Anna Kavan, Charles Baudelaire, and Tarjei Vesaas.

 

Here’s the back cover:

Moonstone Silhouettes - back cover

 

 

And here’s a link to five poems from Moonstone Silhouettes:

http://www.rjdent.com/moonstone.htm

 

R J Dent says: ‘With Moonstone Silhouettes I’ve tried to create a poetry collection in which each poem is a door that opens into another world – hopefully a beautiful world you can enter through the poem and which you can stay in for a while and enjoy – a world where warmth, beauty, joy, laughter, pleasure, happiness and eroticism co-exist peacefully and harmoniously.’

 

Moonstone Silhouettes is available from: 

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moonstone-Silhouettes-ebook/dp/B004MME1GG/ref=la_B0034Q3RD4_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1361655767&sr=1-6

 

or from R J Dent’s office:

 info@rjdent.com

Further  information regarding R J Dent’s book-length translations of Alcaeus, Lautreamont, and Charles Baudelaire is available at: www.rjdent.com

 

Moonstone Silhouettes

Poems by R J Dent

© R J Dent (2013)

 

 

 

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