Charles Baudelaire Books

Charles Baudelaire The Flowers of Evil

Easton Press Charles Baudelaire books:
The Flowers of Evil - 1977

Franklin Library Charles Baudelaire books:
The Flowers of Evil - 100 Greatest Books of All Time - 1977

Charles Baudelaire biography
Charles Pierre Baudelaire, (1821 - 1867), was a French poet and critic, born in Paris, and educated at the College Louis le Grand. His boyhood and adolescence were unhappy, for his father died when he was six years old, and shortly thereafter his mother married an army officer. Charles Baudelaire disliked his stepfather and resented his mother for having married him. After the completion of his studies Baudelaire announced his intention to pursue a literary career. Opposed to his choice and hoping to distract him, his parents sent him on a sea voyage to India. However, he left the ship at the island of Reunion and returned to Paris more determined than ever to devote himself to writing. At first his decision was facilitated by a small inheritance from his father, but Charles Baudelaire soon spent most of the money. In an effort to solve his financial problem he began to write critical journalism. His first important publications were two booklets of art criticism, Les Salons (1845 - 1846), in which he discussed with acute insight the paintings and drawings of such contemporary French artists as Honore Daumier, Edouard Manet, and Eugene Delacroix. He gained his acclaim as skilled literary craftsman in 1848, when his translations of the American writer Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Histoires Extraordinaires) began to appear. Encouraged by that success and spurred on by his enthusiasm for Poe, with whom he felt a strong affinity both as a man and as an artist, Baudelaire continued to translate Edgar Allan Poe's sores until 1857, when the entire five volumes were completed.

Charles Baudelaire's major work, the volume of poetry The Flowers of Evil ("Les Fleurs du Mal"), appeared in 1857. Immediately after its publication the French government prosecuted Baudelaire on a charge of offending public morals. Although the elite French literature came to his support, he was fined, and six poems in the volume were suppressed in subsequent editions. His next work, Les Paradis Artifciels (1860), is a confessional, self analytical book, based on his own experiences and inspired by British writer Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater. Baudelaire lived in Belgium from 1864 to 1866, having gone there with the plan of lecturing and bringing out the complete edition of his work. Baudelaire soon became stricken by paralysis and was brought back to Paris were he died.

One of the great poets of French literature, Charles Baudelaire possessed a classical sense of form, great skill at choosing the appropriate word, and a true gift for musical language; he produced some of the most powerful and lovely verse in French. His originality sets him apart from the dominant literary schools of his time. His poetry has been variously regarded as the last brilliant summation of romanticism, the precursor of symbolism, and the first expression of modern techniques. Because Baudelaire viewed man as a divided being, drawn equally toward God and Satan, he felt impelled to deal in his poems with all of man's experiences, from the most sublime to the most sordid. Yet despite his lurid subject matter, his obsession with death and decay, and his joyless carnality, Baudelaire was in essence a profoundly religious man grappling with the age-old problem of the conflict between the ideal and the sensual.


The Flowers of Evil
Baudelaire’s most famous collection of poems is The Flowers of Evil, which was published in 1857 and which was widely condemned as being unwholesome and decadent. The publication actually led to Baudelaire being prosecuted on a charge of offending public morals.  The poems focus is on death, of disease, of prostitution, of the ordinary street life of Paris, of everything that shed light or spoke to humanity. Scandalous at the time of first publishing, and still challenging nowadays. Some critics call it a “masterpiece of passion, art and poetry”.

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