Selected Lyrics Théophile Gautier, Norman R. Shapiro

The Margellos World Republic of Letters
Publication date:
11 Jan 2011
Yale University Press
552 pages: 197 x 127 x 37mm
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In his ABC of Reading, Ezra Pound begins his short list of nineteenth-century French poets to be studied with Theophile Gautier. Widely esteemed by figures as diverse as Charles Baudelaire, the Goncourt brothers, Gustave Flaubert, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and T. S. Eliot, Gautier was one of the nineteenth century's most prominent French writers, famous for his virtuosity, his inventive textures, and his motto 'Art for art's sake'. His work is often considered a crucial hinge between High Romanticism - idealistic, sentimental, grandiloquent - and the beginnings of 'Parnasse', with its emotional detachment, plasticity, and irresistible surfaces. His large body of verse, however, is little known outside France.

This generous sampling, anchored by the complete Emaux et Camees, perhaps Gautier's supreme poetic achievement, and including poems from the vigorously exotic Espana and several early collections, not only succeeds in bringing these poems into English but also rediscovers them, renewing them in the process of translation. Norman Shapiro's translations have been widely praised for their formal integrity, sonic acuity, tonal sensitivities, and overall poetic qualities, and he employs all these gifts in this collection. Mining one of the crucial treasures of the French tradition, Shapiro makes a major contribution to world letters.

Théophile Gautier (1811–1872) was one of the key poets of the French nineteenth century. Norman R. Shapiro is professor of Romance languages and literatures at Wesleyan University and an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

"Following Gautier's instructions in his famous poem, 'Art', Norman Shapiro has sculpted, chiseled, and filed these ingenious translations in the resistant stone of the English language. One of the key poets of the French nineteenth century, revered by Baudelaire and T.S. Eliot, Gautier can now initiate a new generation of readers in English into the mysteries of the poetic art." -Rosanna Warren, Boston University