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Paroles (Pocket Poets) (City Lights Pocket Poets Series) [French] [Paperback]

Jacques Prevert
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
Price: £7.55 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

1 Jun 1990 City Lights Pocket Poets Series

In the years immediately following World War II, Jacques Prevert spoke directly to and for the French who had come of age during the German Occupation. First published in 1946 by Les Editions de Minuit, a press with its origins in the Underground, Paroles met with enormous success, and there were several hundred thousand copies in print by the time these first translations in English were published by City Lights in 1958.

Today Prevert speaks out in a voice still attuned to our times, for the human condition (which is always his focus) has not changed. In fact, man's inhumanity to man would seem to have intensified, making these poems ever more touching, ever more prescient.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Books; 1st City Lights Bilingual Ed edition (1 Jun 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872860426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872860421
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 16 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 307,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight 5 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this book is my first experience of French poetry and I have been swept off my feet. My French is not currently good enough to follow the poems wothout a translation which is were this book is such a pleasure. Original and translation are on facing pages making it easy to read both in parallel. the book's pocket size makes it ideal for wandering about with and browsing through at odd momments such as on the bus etc. the poems themselves use a lot of word play and, with the aid of the translation, can be apreciated with basic (in my case 'O' grade) French but are deep enough to stimulate thought and stir the emotions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words 21 Oct 2011
By Laertes
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The content of this book is, of course, that of the French book `Paroles' and many of Prevert's better known poems are in it. Through them you can experience the atmosphere of post-war France and particularly of post-war Paris. If you want to savour this atmosphere further, try the Juliette Greco 4cd set called `La Belle Vie' where you will find some of these poems set to music. For Greco, a contemporary of Prevert, they were top hits in France and at least one was a hit in the UK.
Prevert has always attracted English readers by his simple vocabulary and straightforward expression. Most English people who have studied French at all, certainly those who went as far as `A' level, will be able to read the original.
Before the book arrived, (this version ordered for its size, it is a genuine pocket book that actually fits a normal pocket), it was the translation by Lawrence Ferlinghetti that intrigued me. Translations of poetry by poets are usually not all that happy. Too often the poet tries to write a new poem rather than be content with just translating. Even more worrying, Ferlinghetti was published in England alongside Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg in the Penguin book `Beat Poets'.
But Ferlinghetti has done a good job in keeping the English words simple, the phrasing equally simple and by doing so has not only accurately conveyed the meaning of the original but also, perhaps more importantly, its mood. The translation is on the page facing the original and even the lineation is mostly retained. Where one would quarrel with his version is usually over a nit-picking matter of taste rather than of accuracy. That may be because he writes for an American audience. The translation is good.
If you like poetry but do not know Prevert, this is a the place to start. It's like a Citroen, clever, quirky, very French - and enjoyable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful little collection 31 May 2000
By George Schaefer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a fantastic collection of poems. Ferlinghetti did a fabulous job translating these poems into English. Jacques Prevert is a greatly neglected French poet who spoke volumes with his verse. This bilingual edition is a great gift for any lover of poetry. Poems like Pater Noster and Flowers and Wreaths are beautiful verses. Prevert is simple in language but amazingly poignant at his best. He knew the value of directness. These poems are like little jewels of human wisdom. Human Effort, I Am As I Am, Song of The Jailer, etc. There are many highlights in this book. This often maligned, overlooked poet deserves to be reread today. Many who give this book a couple honest reads will probably be impressed by the sheer poetic wonder of this volume. I would state that because it is bilingual, students of the French language might also find value in finding the translations en face with the original. This is a great package all around.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Born in war, but graced by beauty 16 July 2005
By Michael J. Mazza - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Paroles: Selected Poems," by Jacques Prevert, is Number 9 in the Pocket Poets Series from City Lights Books. This volume is translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who also contributes a "Translator's Note." This is a bilingual edition, with the French and English versions of the poems on facing pages. The back cover notes that Prevert's "Paroles" was first published in 1946; Ferlinghetti states that many of these poems "grew out of World War II and the Occupation in France."

I noticed some recurring themes and motifs in this volume. Prevert is very concerned with human pain and suffering; also, there are many references and allusions to war. There is a real iconoclastic streak running through this book. Although many of the poems have a surreal, whimsical quality, much of this poetry is also firmly anchored in tangible realities: an orange, a raincoat, a cigarette, "the faint sound / of a hardboiled egg cracked on a tin counter." Some of the poems have an almost haiku-like quality, saying much with an economy of words.

There were a number of poems that I found particularly striking. "Song" had a joyful, transcendent quality. "Inventory" had an experimental flavor that reminded me somewhat of Gertrude Stein's work. "I've Seen Some of Them" is like a Whitmanesque litany, but with a darker, cryptic, and tragic tone. "Picasso's Magic Lantern" uses words in odd and startling combinations; this poem eptomizes the role of the poet as a sort of prophet who evokes an altered state of consciousness through his creative process. Prevert's voice in "Paroles," although sometimes dark, is overall compassionate and even tender. He seems to be intent on capturing the contradictions, absurdities, beauty, and despair of the early 20th century in his poetry.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for French students and teachers! 18 Jun 2009
By Mme James - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Our final unit of the year is a sampling of Prevert's poems from Paroles, and my 8th grade students love reading his poetry in the original French. Using Ferlinghetti's translations as companion pieces helps those students who don't "get it" appreciate both Prevert and his use of language. I highly recommend this little gem!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Romance 17 April 2009
By Christopher Mollica - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A beautiful book of deceptively simple poems. It's often as close to taking a photo as words can get.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great collection 11 Jun 2005
By BE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I had become very interested in French poetry but was not sure who to read that was more modern. I first heard of Prevert in my French text book. They had included some biographical information on Prevert and one of his poems for students to read due to its simplicity of language. This was the tip I was looking for, and I was very curious to read more of this poet--and I am glad I did!

I would compare Prevert to W.C. Williams in the sense that they both find the profound in the mundane. This is an ability that I greatly admire in a poet, and Prevert has the gift of being able to illuminate the beauty that passes us unnoticed at all times. If you are a long time lover of great poetry or are simply looking to expand your horizons you will not be disappointed with this book. Prevert and his poetry span the entire range of humanity--the young love him as well as the old, the academic as well as the average reader. He is accessable to all, and loved by all.
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