Flowers of Bad
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Flowers of Bad

the bookFlowers of Bad is David Cameron's false translation of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal. Written over the course of eleven years, it includes translations of all the poems in Les Fleurs du Mal.*

Inspired by the chance operations of poet Jackson Mac Low, the methods of the Oulipo and the constant misunderstandings that pervade our experience of language, Cameron developed a number of "methods" used to translate the poems, producing poems which are siblings to Baudelaire's poems, and also their most distant cousins. In the afterword to Flowers of Bad, Cameron describes at length the methods he developed and employed in order to arrive at this multitude of translations.

What exactly is a "false translation"? By the author's definition, a false translation is a translation made without the intention of translating the literal meaning of the original. This leaves open the possibility for almost any aspect of a poem to determine the meaning or direction of its translation, whether it's the meaning as understood or misunderstood by the translator, the poem's sound, the shape or look of the words in the poem, or some other aspect that contributes to the translated poem.

*For those of you keeping score at home, all the poems that had appeared in the editions of Les Fleurs du Mal prior to the posthumous edition of 1868 were translated, including those that had been censored following the first printing. It is my intention to translate the poems that were added to the 1868 edition posthumously.

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