Collected French Translations
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
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An essential, vibrant collection of masterful translations by one of the finest poets at work today
Collected French Translations: Poetry,half of a long-awaited two-volume collection of translations by America’s foremost living poet, surveys John Ashbery’s lifelong love of French poetry. Beginning in 1955, Ashbery spent nearly a decade in France, working as an art critic in Paris and forming a relationship with the poet Pierre Martory. His translations of Martory’s poems, featured here, were collected in The Landscapist, a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation in 2008 and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry.
In this volume, Ashbery presents a wide selection of France’s finest poets: Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, Paul Éluard, and its greatest living poet, Yves Bonnefoy. A rich array of 171 poems by twenty-four poets, this bilingual volume also features a selection from Ashbery’s masterly translation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations. The development of modern French poetry emerges through Ashbery’s chronology, as does the depth of French influences on his iconoclastic career and the poets of the New York School. Collected together for the first time, Ashbery’s translations represent decades of remarkable work from the writer hailed by Harold Bloom as a part of the "American sequence that includes Whitman, Dickinson, Stevens, and Hart Crane."
John Ashbery’s latest book of poems is Quick Question. From 1960 to 1965, he was the International Herald Tribune art critic and ARTnews Paris correspondent. France has named him Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and Officier of the Légion d’Honneur. He has received a National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and President Obama awarded him a National Humanities Medal.Rosanne Wasserman and Eugene Richie’s latest poetry book is Psyche and Amor. They have edited Ashbery’s essays in Other Traditions and in Selected Prose, as well as his translations of Pierre Martory. She teaches at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy; he is the Director of Creative Writing at Pace University.
Praise for John Ashbery’s translation of Illuminations
“Meticulously faithful yet nimbly inventive . . . We are fortunate that John Ashbery has . . . brought to it such care and imaginative resourcefulness.” —Lydia Davis, New York Times Book Review