Trade Paper – $21.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2878-1
Publication Date
December 2012
Page Count
304 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9


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.

About the Author

François Villon (born circa1430) is widely recognized as one of France’s greatest lyric poets. A graduate of the Sorbonne and a chronic lawbreaker, he was pardoned for knifing a priest, jailed for stealing from a college chapel, and eventually sentenced to hang. He successfully appealed the sentence and was instead banished from Paris in 1463. He was never heard from again.

David Georgi studied medieval literature and modern poetry at Yale University and New York University. He works at Vanity Fair magazine and lives in New York City.


"François Villon was as direct and funny and wild and scabrous and passionate as any poet who ever lived, and David Georgi's version of his works is clearly the one for our time, managing the remarkable trick of sounding at once contemporary without cant and fifteenth-century without fustian." —Luc Sante

"For centuries, many have 'done' Villon's poems into English, and each time the tremendous trick is turned we read another Villon. David Georgi's turn has shown me that this dire figuration of a lawless life is the fastest poetry I know." —Richard Howard

"Very few translations are works of power and beauty on their own without losing any of the power and beauty of the original. David Georgi's rendering of Villon's great Testament is one of them. If ever there was a poet deserving of renewed glory, it is the brutal and blessed Villon, criminal and verse-maker, who lived in shadows, disappeared at the age of thirty-two, and left behind something unique, Georgi here gives Villon that renewed glory through new life, and, in doing so, gives us all a rare and wonderful gift." —Nick Tosches