This edition of Laforgue's Dernier Vers stems from the editors' critical interest in the poems themselves and from their feeling that Laforgue has not been well represented by anthologies and selections, which have usually placed a wrong emphasis on his earlier, more blatantly decadent work. The twelve poems making up the Derniers Vers, written in 1886, the year before Laforgue's death, were previously thought to be a disconnected series. The editors show that they are, rather, a carefully planned and developed sequence, representing the successful resolution of artistic problems which had occupied the poet during the previous five or six years. To Laforgue, poetry as art, not communication, and throughout his life he had tried to discover a way of writing a poem the impact and character of which would be analogous to painting and music.
This edition, prepared for English-speaking readers, will be particularly interest because of the important influence of the poems on Exra Pound, who called Laforgue "the most sophisticated of all French poets," and on T.S. Eliot, who acknowledged that the poetry he wrote in 1908 and 1909 "was directly drawn from a study of Laforgue," "if not quite the greatest French poet after Baudelaire ... certainly the most important technical innovator." The editors have drawn on previously unused manuscripts and papers for their informative and illuminating notes. They have also provided an Introduction which places Laforgue in historical and artistic perspective, and sheds interesting light on those aspects of his personal life which are reflected in his writing.