Tag: Books: French Literature


So You Want to Read… (Poetry, Part IV)

Posted 27 April, 2018 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts. Anyway, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I figured it’s a good time to bust out these feature again and talk about some of the poetry books and poets that I would whole-heartedly recommend on checking out, whether you’re already a big reader of poetry or if you’re checking them out for the first time.

  • Louise Labe — Ever been in love (reciprocated or unrequited)? Well, her poetry captures it all–the highs, the lows, the hopes, and the in-betweens. What’s also really cool if you’re a language buff or enthusiast is that the NYRB collection is bilingual so you can read the poem in its original French or Italian (review).
  • Miguel Hernandez — Easily hands down my second favourite Spanish poet after Federico Garcia Lorca. His use of imagery, the emotions that he captures in his words is just amazing and gripping…I don’t know what else to say about his poetry, it’s something to experience; I’m so glad NYPB published his works for an English-speaking audience (review).
  • Giuseppe Ungaretti — I likened his poetry to that of Federico Garcia Lorca’s; there’s something about his use of imagery, the sparse but perplexing and illuminating themes he tackles in his works. This collection of selected poetry (review) is the only one I could find that’s available in English but it’s worth checking out, especially as I hadn’t encountered much Italian poetry until last year.
  • Faraway — There’s a lot of micro-poets out there on Instagram that it can perhaps be a bit fatiguing. But I’ve been following Faraway on Instagram for more than a year and what I find that resonates with me with their work is how, despite its briefness and its micro nature, it doesn’t feel bogged down in stylistics compared to Leav Lang or Nayyirah Waheed; it’s accessible and they write about experiences and feelings we can relate to on a daily basis. Anyway I was delighted to see they collected their poetry into a book, Sad Birds Still Sing (review).
  • Anne Michaels — My brief review of her latest collection, All We Saw, won’t be published here on the blog until…next week, I believe, but nonetheless her sparse but introspective prose has definitely resonated with me. I can’t believe I didn’t read her stuff sooner…and she’s Canadian! Based here in Toronto! But yeah, her work first caught my attention when Penguin Random House, in promoting her latest book, posted one of her latest poems (not included in her latest collection by the way, which was a bit of a bummer), May Love Seize You.



And that’s my list! Do you read poetry? Curious on checking these out? If you want to check out more poetry, there’s of course my poetry books to check out 😉 Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Review: The Flowers of Evil

Posted 28 December, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Flowers of Evil
By: Charles Baudelaire
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

The Flowers of Evil, which T.S. Eliot called the greatest example of modern poetry in any language, shocked the literary world of nineteenth century France with its outspoken portrayal of lesbian love, its linking of sexuality and death, its unremitting irony, and its unflinching celebration of the seamy side of urban life. Including the French texts and comprehensive explanatory notes to the poems, this extraordinary body of love poems restores the six poems originally banned in 1857, revealing the richness and variety of the collection.

Firstly, if you look him up on le Google, he’s got the creepiest photo O_o Anyway, I was first introduced to Charles Baudelaire’s poetry when I read the small collection French Love Poetry (review) earlier this year. I had not read much French poetry to date so I decided to check out this book.

While I was reading this book I was pondering how this book was considered to be modern poetry and why it was considered as revolutionary as it was. Subject-wise his poems about urban life, the prostitutes that fill the French streets, the physicality of his poetry. It’s hard to describe as it’s something to read for yourself and discover but it does feel different compared to other 19th century poetry that I’ve read (granted, they were English poets too, but that’s neither here nor there). His poems about love and about death were especially interesting, but his poems about the Poet and their role was also poems that caught my attention.

This is a pretty tiny review but it bears getting its own post as this is a fairly famous French poet by my understanding. This edition that I read was pretty cool too because the original French was on one side and the English translation on the other, if you’re like me and like to read what it’s like in its original language (or a completionist like me). I can’t say a particular poem stood out for me but I did post a line that I really enjoyed on Litsy. Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for new poetry to read.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Learn more about the poet on Wikipedia || Order this book from The Book Depository

Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 8 September, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Another day, another round of mini reviews! This is another poetry edition as I’ve read a bit of poetry in the last few months that I wanted to talk briefly about 🙂 Included in this batch are:


The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry: An Anthology
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase

More than a century has now passed since F.T. Marinetti’s famous “Futurist Manifesto” slammed the door on the nineteenth century and trumpeted the arrival of modernity in Europe and beyond. Since then, against the backdrop of two world wars and several radical social upheavals whose effects continue to be felt, Italian poets have explored the possibilities of verse in a modern age, creating in the process one of the great bodies of twentieth-century poetry.

Even before Marinetti, poets such as Giovanni Pascoli had begun to clear the weedy rhetoric and withered diction from the once-glorious but by then decadent grounds of Italian poetry. And their winter labors led to an extraordinary spring: Giuseppe Ungaretti’s wartime distillations and Eugenio Montale’s “astringent music”; Umberto Saba’s song of himself and Salvatore Quasimodo’s hermetic involutions. After World War II, new generations—including such marvelously diverse poets as Sandro Penna, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Amelia Rosselli, Vittorio Sereni, and Raffaello Baldini—extended the enormous promise of the prewar era into our time.

A surprising and illuminating collection, The FSG Book of 20th-Century Italian Poetry invites the reader to examine the works of these and other poets—seventy-five in all—in context and conversation with one another. Edited by the poet and translator Geoffrey Brock, these poems have been beautifully rendered into English by some of our finest English-language poets, including Seamus Heaney, Robert Lowell, Ezra Pound, Paul Muldoon, and many exciting younger voices

I bought this monster of a tome on sale at Book City; I’m always up to reading more translated texts and more Italian literature so the intersect between Italian literature and poetry with this book was a win-win for me.

Like the title and blurb mentions, the book covers Italian poetry over the course of the twentieth century, convering everything from life in Italy at the turn of the century to the two world wars, to experimentation in the latter half of the the twentieth century in culture. It’s a bilingual text, which I always enjoy checking out, and whilst there were some I didn’t care for or felt moved by (the really weird experimentation from the mid-century just will never appeal to me) there were others that did intrigue me and whose works I will keep a lookout for as solo collections, such as Giovanni Pascoli and Giuseppe Ungaretti.

Overall, I’m glad to have checked out this collection 🙂

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Two Book Reviews

Posted 1 August, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Read and wrote two books some time ago that weren’t long enough to warrant their own posts but weren’t many enough to compile a mini reviews post so here we are 😛

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French Love Poems
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

Filled with devotion and lust, sensuality and eroticism, fevers and overtures, these poems showcase some of the most passionate verses in the French language. From the classic sixteenth-century love sonnets of Louise Labé and Maurice Sceve to the piercing lyricism of the Romantics and the dreamlike compositions of the Surrealists, French Love Poems is the perfect, seductive gift for anyone who makes your heart flutter.

Sort of picked this book up on a whim back in Victoria Day because it was such a cute little volume. Plus, what the heck, I haven’t read much French poetry, really.

It’s a great collection of poetry, introducing me to a number of French poets I either heard of in passing or just never heard of period. Talk about the embedded eroticism and sensuality present in these poems, I guess I don’t read enough of those to warrant knowing what reading those poems are like, but the love poems as a whole do capture the intensity and the feeling of love and longing quite succinctly. This collection is also very cool because it does have the original French on one page and the translated English facing it. Definitely worth checking out!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Order this book from The Book Depository

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A Nervous Breakdown
By: Anton Chekhov
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

“I did have hallucinations, but did they harm anyone? Who did they harm, that’s what I’d like to know!”

From the supreme artist of the short story, three disturbing tales of supernatural hallucinations, hysterical obsession and moral decay.

I’m always up for reading a bit of Anton Chekhov. This collection of three stories was interesting as it weaves in a variety of social issues ranging from helping your family and family status to prostitution and mental illness. The first two in particular tie in especially well with the subject of mental illness and how society and medical specialists treated the issue at the time, but also the personal ramnifications, how is it perceived by the self, is it a force of clarity. The third story, “Anna Around the Neck”, ties in less so on the subject but it’s nonetheless touches on a number of issues and was also sad in its own way. Of the three “The Black Monk” was the only story I read previously and I have to say, the title story was the one that stuck out in my memory afterwards moreso than the other two. Nonetheless it’s an interesting book to pick up, especially if you’ve never read anything by Anton Chekhov.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from The Book Depository

Review: The Poisoned Crown

Posted 9 September, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Poisoned Crown (The Accursed Kings #3)
By: Maurice Druon
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

A crown is a poisonous thing…

After having his first wife murdered and his mistress exiled, the weak and impotent King Louis X of France becomes besotted with the lovely and pious Princess Clemence of Hungary.

Having made her his new queen, and believing the succession assured, Louis foolishly embarks upon an ill-fated war against Flanders.

The kingdom needs an Iron King. But where his father, Philip IV, was strong, Louis is feeble. Surrounded by ruthlessly ambitious nobles, Including Robert of Artois and his monstrous aunt, Mahaut, Louis will find himself a lamb amongst wolves.

And here we are, The Poisoned Crown. This is the last book I have of the series right now on my TBR pile as I haven’t picked up the rest of the series, but it’s good to read this series straight while the characters are still fresh in your mind. Contains some mild spoilers ahead!

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