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#165788 - 02/07/07 12:53 PM On Translating EA Poe  
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BranShea Offline
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BranShea  Offline
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Poe's Influence on French Literature

In France, where he is commonly known as "Edgar Poe" Poe's works first arrived when two French papers published separate (and uncredited) translations of Poe's detective story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". A third newspaper, La Presse, accused the editor of the second paper, E. D. Forgues, of plagiarizing the first paper. Forgues explained that the story was original to neither paper, but was a translation of "les Contes d'E. Poe, littérateur américain." ("the stories of E. Poe, American author.") When La Presse did not acknowledge Forgues' explanation of the events, Forgues responded with a libel lawsuit, during which he repeatedly proclaimed, "Avez-vous lu Edgar Poe? Lisez Edgar Poe." ("Have you read Edgar Poe? Read Edgar Poe!") The notoriety of this trial promoted his name thoughout Paris, gaining the interest of many poets and writers.

Among these was Charles Baudelaire, who translated almost all of Poe's stories and several of the poems into French. His excellent translations meant that Poe enjoyed a vogue among avant garde writers in France while being ignored in his native land. Poe also exerted a powerful influence over Baudelaire's own poetry, as can be seen from Baudelaire's obsession with macabre imagery, morbid themes, musical verse and aesthetic pleasure.

In a draft preface to his most famous work, Les Fleurs du Mal , Baudelaire lists Poe as one of the authors whom he plagiarized. Baudelaire also found in Poe an example of what he saw as the destructive elements of bourgeois society. Poe himself was critical of Democrcracy and Capitalism . (in his story "Mellonta Tauta," Poe proclaims that "democracy is a very admirable form of government-for dogs" ), and the tragic poverty and misery of Poe's biography seemed, to Baudelaire, to be the ultimate example of how the bourgeoisie destroys genius and originality. Raymond Foye, editor of the book The Unknown Poe, put Baudelaire's and Poe's shared political sympathies this way: But both in their own territory; the arrogance of loneliness.
Poe's anti-democratic views persuaded Baudelaire to abandon his socialism, and if these two men shared a single political preference it was Monarchy.
The later authors Paul Valéry and Marcel Proust were great admirers of Poe, the latter saying "Poe sought to arrive at the beautiful through evocation and an elimination of moral motives in his art." (from wiki)

Charles Baudelaire, the poet responsable for the excellent translations was a powerful poet himself. A serious try to translate one of his poems from French to English showed me soon enough how impossble that job is.

As goes:

l' Albatros

Souvent, pour s'amuser les hommes d'équipage--Often, as passtime the sailor's crew's members
Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers- Take albatrosses, vast birds of the seas
Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage,-- That follow, indolent trav'ling companions,
Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers. ------- The ship that slides on the bitter gulfs.

A peine les ont-ils déposés sur les planches,----Hardly have they put them down on the deck
Que ces rois de l'azur, maladroits et honteux,/These kings of the blue sky,clumsy and embarrassing
Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches-When miserably they let hang their large white wings
Comme des avirons traîner à côté d'eux. -------To drag like oars alongside of them.

This is the raw and nearset literal translation. Only it lacks the end rhyme on a
D-C-D-C --- scheme.( And more!) The rythm is already a problem and more so when you insist on the end- rhyme.

So , Baudelaire must have done a superb job on the EA.Poe translations to make them so popular in France en other Euro- countries.

I wonder if a native English speaker could improve the English side of the poem and in the above end-rhyme scheme.
That would be a fantastic achievment. I defenitely can't.

Ah! of course, to add: the second two couplets of the poem talk some more about the loss of the Albatros's grandeur once he's grounded and make the giant bird a metaphore for poets, who like the bird are exiled on the ground.

Last edited by BranShea; 02/07/07 02:32 PM.
#165789 - 02/07/07 11:25 PM Re: On Translating EA Poe  
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themilum Offline
themilum  Offline

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Aladamnbama the most watered s...
I agree, BranShe. Poems have transcendent meanings that when transliterated become something other than the same poem.

Here in example is a quatrain of Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat inspired by the writings of Omar Khayyam along with another poet's attempts at poetic translation.


Signs of destiny have always been
Those hands inscribed both good and mean
What was written, came from the unseen
Though we tried without and worried within.


One is great
Who faces fate
Before it’s late,
The destined state
No matter how much we debate
Oppose, engage, or calculate
Even try to accelerate
Fate only moves at its own rate.
Futile is worry, anger and hate
Joy is the only worthy mate.


The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.


O Herz, da die Welt nichts als Schatten und Schein
Warum quälst Du Dich ab in unendlicher Pein?
Mit ruhigem Sinn geh‘ dem Schicksal entgegen
Und glaub nicht, es ändere sich Deinetwegen!

From this site, O Saki ... PRESTO!

Last edited by themilum; 02/09/07 12:07 AM.
#165790 - 02/08/07 12:58 AM Re: On Translating EA Poe  
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TEd Remington Offline
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TEd Remington  Offline
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It may be H. H. Munro (Hector Hugh Munro) to you, but it's Saki to me.

#165791 - 02/09/07 12:15 PM Re: Omar Khayyám  
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BranShea Offline
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BranShea  Offline
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Netherlands, the Hague
I see. Rythm , cadance, rhyme change with each language. To be true to the original you cannot hold on to those original structures. Tried to find an Eglish E.A Poe Volume, but not even second hand it was to be got.
What I did find was a beautiful sec.hand hardcover of Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.Complete facsimile reprint of the First and combined Third, Fourht and Fifth editions, translated into English quatrains by Edward Fitzgerald. Preface, appendix, notes and illustrations and all.
A 1947 edition for the Book-of-the-Month Club from the original in 1859,in perfect condition. Something new to discover, thanks.

Last edited by BranShea; 02/09/07 12:25 PM.
#165792 - 02/09/07 03:01 PM Re: Omar Khayyám  
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TheFallibleFiend Offline
TheFallibleFiend  Offline

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Virginia, USA
I have three copies of the Rubaiyat. I keep my best (illustrated copy) next to my computer at home. The name for my science blog "The Inverted Bowl" is taken from one of them.

#165793 - 02/10/07 09:09 AM Re: Omar Khayyám  
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BranShea Offline
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BranShea  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2006
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Netherlands, the Hague
All right. I will take back my words. Even delete the post.
You got 3, I got 1, which I haven't even read yet. So it's only fair.
I'll delete and when I come to "The Inverted Bowl" I will remember your science blog.
Could you do the same? Delete? I just guess Omar Khayyám would have appreciated William Carlos William's poems, which are all in all clear as glass and good as gold.

(I've read the first two stanzas and I know I will love this.)

Last edited by BranShea; 02/10/07 12:55 PM.

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