Paris: Michel Lévy Frères, 1865. 1st Edition. Small octavo, early green morocco over marbled paper-covered boards, spine elaborately gilt, corners tipped in vellum, attached green silk bookmark.
Fifth and final volume of Baudelaire's celebrated French translations of Poe's tales. Baudelaire spent 17 years studying and translating the American writer, in whom he found a kindred spirit. Both were impoverished, underappreciated by their contemporaries, and equally possessed of morbid turns of mind, which they channeled into their visionary, macabre, often metaphysical writings. Baudelaire published his earliest translations in newspapers and literary periodicals as a source of income, though he was clearly moved by a larger sense of purpose, as evidenced in an 1852 letter to literary critic Sainte-Beuve: "Il faut, c’est-à-dire je désire, qu’Edgar Poe, qui n’est pas grand-chose en Amérique, devienne un grand homme pour la France" (quoted in Cabau, Edgar Poe par lui-même). Working primarily from the definitive 1850 American edition of Poe's works, Baudelaire published five volumes of his translations between 1856-65 (almost entirely of Poe's fiction). They quickly became standard versions, exerting a profound influence on the Symbolist and Surrealist movements, and played no small part in fixing Poe in the European literary imagination. The present volume contains ten tales, including, among others: "Le Mystère de Marie Roget," "Le Joueuer d'échecs de Maelzel," "Èléonora," "L'Ange du Bizarre," and "La Genèse d'un poëme," Poe's disingenuous account of his composition of "The Raven." An exceptional copy. Item #449