Aime Cesaire's masterpiece, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, is a work of immense cultural significance and beauty. This long poem was the beginning of Cesaire's quest for negritude, and it became an anthem of Blacks around the world. Commentary on Cesaire's work has often focused on its Cold War and anticolonialist rhetoric--material that Cesaire only added in 1956. The original 1939 version of the poem, given here in French, and in its first English translation, reveals a work that is both spiritual and cultural in structure, tone, and thrust. This Wesleyan edition includes the original illustrations by Wifredo Lam, and an introduction, notes, and chronology by A. James Arnold.
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One of the most original and influential European poets of the Middle Ages, François Villon took his inspiration from the streets, taverns, and jails of Paris. Villon was a subversive voice speaking from the margins of society. He wrote about love and sex, money trouble, "the thieving rich," and the consolations of good food and wine. His work is striking in its directness, wit, and gritty urban realism. Villon’s writing spurred the development of the psychologically complex first-person voice in lyric poetry. He has influenced generations of avant-garde poets and artists. Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine have emulated Villon’s poetry. Claude Debussy set it to music, and Bertolt Brecht adapted it for the stage. Ezra Pound championed Villon’s poetry and became largely responsible for its impact on modern verse. With David Georgi’s ingenious translation, English-speaking audiences finally have a text that captures the riotous energy and wordplay of the original. With a newly revised French text that reflects the latest scholarship, this bilingual edition also features inviting and informative notes that illuminate the nuances of Villon’s poems and the world of medieval Paris.
Guillaume Apollinaire's first book of poems has charmed readers with its brief celebrations of animals, birds, fish, insects, and the mythical poet Orpheus since it was first published in 1911. Though Apollinaire would go on to longer and more ambitious work, his Bestiary reveals key elements of his later poetry, among them surprising images, wit, formal mastery, and wry irony. X. J. Kennedy's fresh translation follows Apollinaire in casting the poems into rhymed stanzas, suggesting music and sudden closures while remaining faithful to their sense. Kennedy provides the English alongside the original French, inviting readers to compare the two and appreciate the fidelity of the former to the latter. He includes a critical and historical essay that relates the Bestiary to its sources in medieval "creature books," provides a brief biography and summation of the troubled circumstances surrounding the book's initial publication, and places the poems in the context of Apollinaire's work as a poet and as a champion of avant garde art. This short introduction to the work of an essentially modern writer includes four curious poems apparently suppressed from the first edition and reprints of the Raoul Dufy woodcuts published in the 1911 edition.