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Collected French Translations: Poetry

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The first volume of a momentous two-volume gathering of translations by America’s greatest living poet represents Ashbery’s lifelong engagement with French poetry. He spent almost a decade in France from 1955, during which he worked as an art critic in Paris and was close to the poet Pierre Martory. His versions of Martory’s poems (published by Carcanet as The Landscapist) The first volume of a momentous two-volume gathering of translations by America’s greatest living poet represents Ashbery’s lifelong engagement with French poetry. He spent almost a decade in France from 1955, during which he worked as an art critic in Paris and was close to the poet Pierre Martory. His versions of Martory’s poems (published by Carcanet as The Landscapist) were a 2008 Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation; a selection of them appears here. His other poetry translations include Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Pierre Reverdy, Max Jacob, Arthur Cravan, Francis Ponge, Paul Éluard and André Breton, and France’s greatest living poet, Yves Bonnefoy. The development of modern French poetry – by way of the movements of Romanticism, Symbolism, Dadaism and Surrealism – emerges through Ashbery’s chronology. Presenting 149 poems by twenty-one poets, this edition also features a sampler of Ashbery’s masterly translation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations, published to acclaim in 2011. In Ashbery this classic text found a translator whose virtuosic originality brought Rimbaud’s visions to life in English.


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The first volume of a momentous two-volume gathering of translations by America’s greatest living poet represents Ashbery’s lifelong engagement with French poetry. He spent almost a decade in France from 1955, during which he worked as an art critic in Paris and was close to the poet Pierre Martory. His versions of Martory’s poems (published by Carcanet as The Landscapist) The first volume of a momentous two-volume gathering of translations by America’s greatest living poet represents Ashbery’s lifelong engagement with French poetry. He spent almost a decade in France from 1955, during which he worked as an art critic in Paris and was close to the poet Pierre Martory. His versions of Martory’s poems (published by Carcanet as The Landscapist) were a 2008 Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation; a selection of them appears here. His other poetry translations include Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Pierre Reverdy, Max Jacob, Arthur Cravan, Francis Ponge, Paul Éluard and André Breton, and France’s greatest living poet, Yves Bonnefoy. The development of modern French poetry – by way of the movements of Romanticism, Symbolism, Dadaism and Surrealism – emerges through Ashbery’s chronology. Presenting 149 poems by twenty-one poets, this edition also features a sampler of Ashbery’s masterly translation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations, published to acclaim in 2011. In Ashbery this classic text found a translator whose virtuosic originality brought Rimbaud’s visions to life in English.

43 review for Collected French Translations: Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Collected French Translations: Poetry is half of a two-volume collection of translations by esteemed American poet, John Ashbery. Ashbery's lifelong engagement with French literature has spanned nearly eighty years, and when read together, this two-volume collection gives Ashbery's impressive career as a translator the attention it deserves. Most recently, at age eighty-four, he published his 2011 translation of Rimbaud's collected prose poems, Illuminations. Volume I of his Collected French Tra Collected French Translations: Poetry is half of a two-volume collection of translations by esteemed American poet, John Ashbery. Ashbery's lifelong engagement with French literature has spanned nearly eighty years, and when read together, this two-volume collection gives Ashbery's impressive career as a translator the attention it deserves. Most recently, at age eighty-four, he published his 2011 translation of Rimbaud's collected prose poems, Illuminations. Volume I of his Collected French Translations includes a bilingual collection of nearly all of Ashbery's translated poems: 171 poems by twenty-four poets including Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, Rimbaud, Éluard, André Breton, René Char, Pierre Martory, and Serge Fauchereau, among others. It also includes an excellent Introduction to Ashbery's translations by editors Rosanne Wasserman and Eugene Richie. Highly recommended, particularly for anyone with an interest in the French Surrealist poets.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Peter Crofts

    Probably not the best place to go if you're looking for an introduction to modern French poetry. On the other hand, it is Ashbery, and if you like his work you might want to look at this. He is probably the most French of American poets and there's a reason why. The majority of the poets translated here are 20th century French surrealists as well as more contemporary French verse. There is a fair bit of Jacob, Reverdy (fantastic translations!) and Eluard. There is also a lot of Martory, whom I w Probably not the best place to go if you're looking for an introduction to modern French poetry. On the other hand, it is Ashbery, and if you like his work you might want to look at this. He is probably the most French of American poets and there's a reason why. The majority of the poets translated here are 20th century French surrealists as well as more contemporary French verse. There is a fair bit of Jacob, Reverdy (fantastic translations!) and Eluard. There is also a lot of Martory, whom I was not familiar with, whose work is very intriguing. Very much in the French tradition of the mixing of high and low language. There are many other recent poets who are all of interest. There's very little from the 19th century. This anthology does not offer the full text of his recent translation of Rimbaud's Illuminations. Which is a bit of a disappointment. What it does offer, and as far as I know it's the only place they are available in translations, are a significant number of Mallarme's Lecons. Being written to assist him in teaching English to French students, they are very odd glosses by the poet to explain the meaning of well known nursery rhymes. Only "problem" is they don't explain much of anything, but are like the ruminations of a complete eccentric who uses the source material to fly off in all sorts of odd directions. Some of them will make you laugh out loud. I'm surprised they're not better known. Using rhymes for children strikes me as a rich strategy for poetic inspiration. You can get lost in this volume, there is so much on offer and most all of it is high quality in both source and translation. I would imagine it will also lead many readers to seek more of the work of many of the poets represented in these translations.

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    David

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    Maja Lukic

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    Maarten Buser

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    Liam Wilkinson

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    Peter Crofts

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    SLH

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    mwpm

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    Cristina

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    Richard Randall

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    Richard Hicks

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