Baudelaire’s prose poems were written over many years and published in magazines between 1855 and his death in 1867. Francis Scarfe’s translations reflect a lifetime’s passion for Baudelaire’s work and a deep understanding of it. The appeal of this beautiful book’, he says in his introduction, lies in its wide range of subjects, its variations of tone and mood, its great variety of presentation and above all in its psychological subtleties. It shows the poet at the height of his powers, totally uninhibited in his expression of wonder, tenderness and compassion’. Francis Scarfe has appended an early prose extravaganza, the delightful short novel La Fanfarlo (1847), which has much in common with the poems.
The companion volume, The Complete Verse, contains all Baudelaire’s poetry in verse, from Les Fleurs du mal (1861) to his occasional poems and translations.
Francis Scarfe (1911-1986) was a lecturer in French poetry at Glasgow University before and again after World War II. From 1959 to 1978, he was director of the British Institute in Paris. For his work on Baudelaire he was awarded the Prix de L’Île Saint-Louis (1966). On retirement he was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. He was the author of four collections of poetry, a verse translation of selected fables of La Fontaine, and the critical works Auden and After and André Chénier, His Life and Work.