Charles Baudelaire

Charles Pierre Baudelaire (UK: /ˈboʊdəlɛər/, US: /ˌboʊd(ə)ˈlɛər/;[1] French: [ʃaʁl bodlɛʁ] (listen); 9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867) was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe.

His most famous work, a book of lyric poetry titled Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in the rapidly industrializing Paris during the mid-19th century. Baudelaire's highly original style of prose-poetry influenced a whole generation of poets including Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé, among many others. He is credited with coining the term "modernity" (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility of artistic expression to capture that experience.[2]

Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire by Étienne Carjat, 1863
Charles Baudelaire by Étienne Carjat, 1863
BornCharles Pierre Baudelaire
9 April 1821
Paris, France
Died31 August 1867 (aged 46)
Paris, France
OccupationPoet, art critic, philosopher
EducationLycée Louis-le-Grand
Literary movementDecadent

Baudelaire signatur

Early life

Baudelaire was born in Paris, France, on 9 April 1821, and baptized two months later at Saint-Sulpice Roman Catholic Church.[3] His father, Joseph-François Baudelaire (1759-1827),[4] a senior civil servant and amateur artist, was 34 years older than Baudelaire's mother, Caroline (née Dufaÿs) (1794-1871).[5] François died during Baudelaire's childhood, at rue Hautefeuille, Paris, on February 10, 1827. The following year, Caroline married Lieutenant Colonel Jacques Aupick, who later became a French ambassador to various noble courts. Baudelaire's biographers have often seen this as a crucial moment, considering that finding himself no longer the sole focus of his mother's affection left him with a trauma, which goes some way to explaining the excesses later apparent in his life. He stated in a letter to her that, "There was in my childhood a period of passionate love for you."[6] Baudelaire regularly begged his mother for money throughout his career, often promising that a lucrative publishing contract or journalistic commission was just around the corner.

Baudelaire was educated in Lyon, where he boarded. At fourteen he was described by a classmate as "much more refined and distinguished than any of our fellow pupils ... we are bound to one another ... by shared tastes and sympathies, the precocious love of fine works of literature."[7] Baudelaire was erratic in his studies, at times diligent, at other times prone to "idleness". Later, he attended the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris, studying law, a popular course for those not yet decided on any particular career. He began to frequent prostitutes and may have contracted gonorrhea and syphilis during this period. He also began to run up debts, mostly for clothes. Upon gaining his degree in 1839, he told his brother "I don't feel I have a vocation for anything." His stepfather had in mind a career in law or diplomacy, but instead Baudelaire decided to embark upon a literary career. His mother later recalled: "Oh, what grief! If Charles had let himself be guided by his stepfather, his career would have been very different.... He would not have left a name in literature, it is true, but we should have been happier, all three of us."[8]

Baudelaire 1844
Portrait of Baudelaire, painted in 1844 by Emile Deroy (1820–1846)

His stepfather sent him on a voyage to Calcutta, India, in 1841 in the hope of ending his dissolute habits. The trip provided strong impressions of the sea, sailing, and exotic ports, that he later employed in his poetry.[9] (Baudelaire later exaggerated his aborted trip to create a legend about his youthful travels and experiences, including "riding on elephants".) On returning to the taverns of Paris, he began to compose some of the poems of "Les Fleurs du Mal". At 21, he received a sizable inheritance but squandered much of it within a few years. His family obtained a decree to place his property in trust,[10] which he resented bitterly, at one point arguing that allowing him to fail financially would have been the one sure way of teaching him to keep his finances in order.

Baudelaire became known in artistic circles as a dandy and free-spender, going through much of his inheritance and allowance in a short period of time. During this time, Jeanne Duval became his mistress. She was rejected by his family. His mother thought Duval a "Black Venus" who "tortured him in every way" and drained him of money at every opportunity.[11] Baudelaire made a suicide attempt during this period.

He took part in the Revolutions of 1848 and wrote for a revolutionary newspaper. However, his interest in politics was passing, as he was later to note in his journals.

In the early 1850s, Baudelaire struggled with poor health, pressing debts, and irregular literary output. He often moved from one lodging to another to escape creditors. He undertook many projects that he was unable to complete, though he did finish translations of stories by Edgar Allan Poe.

Upon the death of his stepfather in 1857, Baudelaire received no mention in the will but he was heartened nonetheless that the division with his mother might now be mended. At 36 he wrote her: "believe that I belong to you absolutely, and that I belong only to you."[12] His mother died on 16 August 1871, outliving her son by almost four years.

Published career

His first published work, under the pseudonym Baudelaire Dufaÿs,[13] was his art review "Salon of 1845", which attracted immediate attention for its boldness. Many of his critical opinions were novel in their time, including his championing of Delacroix, and some of his views seem remarkably in tune with the future theories of the Impressionist painters.

In 1846, Baudelaire wrote his second Salon review, gaining additional credibility as an advocate and critic of Romanticism. His continued support of Delacroix as the foremost Romantic artist gained widespread notice.[14] The following year Baudelaire's novella La Fanfarlo was published.

The Flowers of Evil

Fleurs du mal
The first edition of Les Fleurs du mal with author's notes

Baudelaire was a slow and very attentive worker. However he was often sidetracked by indolence, emotional distress and illness, and it was not until 1857 that he published his first and most famous volume of poems, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil).[15] Some of these poems had already appeared in the Revue des deux mondes (Review of Two Worlds) in 1855, when they were published by Baudelaire's friend Auguste Poulet Malassis.[16][17] Some of the poems had also previously appeared as "fugitive verse" in various French magazines during the previous decade.[18]

The poems found a small, yet appreciative audience. However, greater public attention was given to their subject matter. The effect on fellow artists was, as Théodore de Banville stated, "immense, prodigious, unexpected, mingled with admiration and with some indefinable anxious fear".[19] Gustave Flaubert, recently attacked in a similar fashion for Madame Bovary (and acquitted), was impressed and wrote to Baudelaire: "You have found a way to rejuvenate Romanticism.... You are as unyielding as marble, and as penetrating as an English mist."[20]

The principal themes of sex and death were considered scandalous for the period. He also touched on lesbianism, sacred and profane love, metamorphosis, melancholy, the corruption of the city, lost innocence, the oppressiveness of living, and wine. Notable in some poems is Baudelaire's use of imagery of the sense of smell and of fragrances, which is used to evoke feelings of nostalgia and past intimacy.[21]

The book, however, quickly became a byword for unwholesomeness among mainstream critics of the day. Some critics called a few of the poems "masterpieces of passion, art and poetry," but other poems were deemed to merit no less than legal action to suppress them.[22] J. Habas led the charge against Baudelaire, writing in Le Figaro: "Everything in it which is not hideous is incomprehensible, everything one understands is putrid." Baudelaire responded to the outcry in a prophetic letter to his mother:

"You know that I have always considered that literature and the arts pursue an aim independent of morality. Beauty of conception and style is enough for me. But this book, whose title (Fleurs du mal) says everything, is clad, as you will see, in a cold and sinister beauty. It was created with rage and patience. Besides, the proof of its positive worth is in all the ill that they speak of it. The book enrages people. Moreover, since I was terrified myself of the horror that I should inspire, I cut out a third from the proofs. They deny me everything, the spirit of invention and even the knowledge of the French language. I don't care a rap about all these imbeciles, and I know that this book, with its virtues and its faults, will make its way in the memory of the lettered public, beside the best poems of V. Hugo, Th. Gautier and even Byron."[23]

Rops Les Epaves 1866
Illustration cover for Les Épaves, by Baudelaire's friend Félicien Rops

Baudelaire, his publisher and the printer were successfully prosecuted for creating an offense against public morals. They were fined, but Baudelaire was not imprisoned.[24] Six of the poems were suppressed, but printed later as Les Épaves (The Wrecks) (Brussels, 1866). Another edition of Les Fleurs du mal, without these poems, but with considerable additions, appeared in 1861. Many notables rallied behind Baudelaire and condemned the sentence. Victor Hugo wrote to him: "Your fleurs du mal shine and dazzle like stars.... I applaud your vigorous spirit with all my might."[25] Baudelaire did not appeal the judgment, but his fine was reduced. Nearly 100 years later, on May 11, 1949, Baudelaire was vindicated, the judgment officially reversed, and the six banned poems reinstated in France.[25]

In the poem "Au lecteur" ("To the Reader") that prefaces Les Fleurs du mal, Baudelaire accuses his readers of hypocrisy and of being as guilty of sins and lies as the poet:

... If rape or arson, poison or the knife
Has wove no pleasing patterns in the stuff
Of this drab canvas we accept as life—
It is because we are not bold enough!
(Roy Campbell's translation)

Final years

Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire by Nadar, 1855

Baudelaire next worked on a translation and adaptation of Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater.[26] Other works in the years that followed included Petits Poèmes en prose (Small Prose poems); a series of art reviews published in the Pays, Exposition universelle (Country, World Fair); studies on Gustave Flaubert (in L'Artiste, October 18, 1857); on Théophile Gautier (Revue contemporaine, September 1858); various articles contributed to Eugene Crepet's Poètes francais; Les Paradis artificiels: opium et haschisch (French poets; Artificial Paradises: opium and hashish) (1860); and Un Dernier Chapitre de l'histoire des oeuvres de Balzac (A Final Chapter of the history of works of Balzac) (1880), originally an article "Comment on paye ses dettes quand on a du génie" ("How one pays one's debts when one has genius"), in which his criticism turns against his friends Honoré de Balzac, Théophile Gautier, and Gérard de Nerval.[16]

Apollonie Sabatier-Vincent Vidal
Apollonie Sabatier, muse and one time mistress, painted by Vincent Vidal
Charles Baudelaire tomb in Montparnasse Cemetery
Cenotaph of Charles Baudelaire, Montparnasse Cemetery
Grave of Baudelaire in Cimetière du Montparnasse

By 1859, his illnesses, his long-term use of laudanum, his life of stress, and his poverty had taken a toll and Baudelaire had aged noticeably. But at last, his mother relented and agreed to let him live with her for a while at Honfleur. Baudelaire was productive and at peace in the seaside town, his poem Le Voyage being one example of his efforts during that time.[27] In 1860, he became an ardent supporter of Richard Wagner.

His financial difficulties increased again, however, particularly after his publisher Poulet Malassis went bankrupt in 1861. In 1864, he left Paris for Belgium, partly in the hope of selling the rights to his works and also to give lectures.[28] His long-standing relationship with Jeanne Duval continued on-and-off, and he helped her to the end of his life. Baudelaire's relationships with actress Marie Daubrun and with courtesan Apollonie Sabatier, though the source of much inspiration, never produced any lasting satisfaction. He smoked opium, and in Brussels he began to drink to excess. Baudelaire suffered a massive stroke in 1866 and paralysis followed. After more than a year of aphasia, he received the last rites of the Catholic Church.[29] The last two years of his life were spent, in a semi-paralyzed state, in "maisons de santé" in Brussels and in Paris, where he died on 31 August 1867. Baudelaire is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris.

Many of Baudelaire's works were published posthumously. After his death, his mother paid off his substantial debts, and at last she found some comfort in Baudelaire's emerging fame. "I see that my son, for all his faults, has his place in literature." She lived another four years.


Who among us has not dreamt, in moments of ambition, of the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without rhythm and rhyme, supple and staccato enough to adapt to the lyrical stirrings of the soul, the undulations of dreams, and sudden leaps of consciousness. This obsessive idea is above all a child of giant cities, of the intersecting of their myriad relations.

— Dedication of Le Spleen de Paris

Baudelaire is one of the major innovators in French literature. His poetry is influenced by the French romantic poets of the earlier 19th century, although its attention to the formal features of verse connects it more closely to the work of the contemporary "Parnassians". As for theme and tone, in his works we see the rejection of the belief in the supremacy of nature and the fundamental goodness of man as typically espoused by the romantics and expressed by them in rhetorical, effusive and public voice in favor of a new urban sensibility, an awareness of individual moral complexity, an interest in vice (linked with decadence) and refined sensual and aesthetic pleasures, and the use of urban subject matter, such as the city, the crowd, individual passers-by, all expressed in highly ordered verse, sometimes through a cynical and ironic voice. Formally, the use of sound to create atmosphere, and of "symbols" (images that take on an expanded function within the poem), betray a move towards considering the poem as a self-referential object, an idea further developed by the Symbolists Verlaine and Mallarmé, who acknowledge Baudelaire as a pioneer in this regard.

Beyond his innovations in versification and the theories of symbolism and "correspondences", an awareness of which is essential to any appreciation of the literary value of his work, aspects of his work that regularly receive much critical discussion include the role of women, the theological direction of his work and his alleged advocacy of "satanism", his experience of drug-induced states of mind, the figure of the dandy, his stance regarding democracy and its implications for the individual, his response to the spiritual uncertainties of the time, his criticisms of the bourgeois, and his advocacy of modern music and painting (e.g., Wagner, Delacroix). He made Paris the subject of modern poetry. He would bring the city's details to life in the eyes and hearts of his readers.[30]


Baudelaire was an active participant in the artistic life of his times. As critic and essayist, he wrote extensively and perceptively about the luminaries and themes of French culture. He was frank with friends and enemies, rarely took the diplomatic approach and sometimes responded violently verbally, which often undermined his cause.[31] His associations were numerous and included: Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Franz Liszt, Champfleury, Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Balzac and the artists and writers that follow.

Edgar Allan Poe

In 1847, Baudelaire became acquainted with the works of Poe, in which he found tales and poems that had, he claimed, long existed in his own brain but never taken shape. Baudelaire saw in Poe a precursor and tried to be his French contemporary counterpart.[32] From this time until 1865, he was largely occupied with translating Poe's works; his translations were widely praised. Baudelaire was not the first French translator of Poe, but his "scrupulous translations" were considered among the best. These were published as Histoires extraordinaires (Extraordinary stories) (1856), Nouvelles histoires extraordinaires (New extraordinary stories) (1857), Aventures d'Arthur Gordon Pym, Eureka, and Histoires grotesques et sérieuses (Grotesque and serious stories) (1865). Two essays on Poe are to be found in his Oeuvres complètes (Complete works) (vols. v. and vi.).

Eugène Delacroix

A strong supporter of the Romantic painter Delacroix, Baudelaire called him "a poet in painting". Baudelaire also absorbed much of Delacroix's aesthetic ideas as expressed in his journals. As Baudelaire elaborated in his "Salon of 1846", "As one contemplates his series of pictures, one seems to be attending the celebration of some grievous mystery.... This grave and lofty melancholy shines with a dull light ... plaintive and profound like a melody by Weber."[14] Delacroix, though appreciative, kept his distance from Baudelaire, particularly after the scandal of Les Fleurs du mal. In private correspondence, Delacroix stated that Baudelaire "really gets on my nerves" and he expressed his unhappiness with Baudelaire's persistent comments about "melancholy" and "feverishness".[33]

Richard Wagner

Baudelaire had no formal musical training, and knew little of composers beyond Beethoven and Weber. Weber was in some ways Wagner's precursor, using the leitmotif and conceiving the idea of the "total art work" ("Gesamtkunstwerk"), both of which gained Baudelaire's admiration. Before even hearing Wagner's music, Baudelaire studied reviews and essays about him, and formulated his impressions. Later, Baudelaire put them into his non-technical analysis of Wagner, which was highly regarded, particularly his essay "Richard Wagner et Tannhäuser à Paris".[34] Baudelaire's reaction to music was passionate and psychological. "Music engulfs (possesses) me like the sea."[34] After attending three Wagner concerts in Paris in 1860, Baudelaire wrote to the composer: "I had a feeling of pride and joy in understanding, in being possessed, in being overwhelmed, a truly sensual pleasure like that of rising in the air."[35] Baudelaire's writings contributed to the elevation of Wagner and to the cult of Wagnerism that swept Europe in the following decades.

Théophile Gautier

Gautier, writer and poet, earned Baudelaire's respect for his perfection of form and his mastery of language, though Baudelaire thought he lacked deeper emotion and spirituality. Both strove to express the artist's inner vision, which Heinrich Heine had earlier stated: "In artistic matters, I am a supernaturalist. I believe that the artist can not find all his forms in nature, but that the most remarkable are revealed to him in his soul."[36] Gautier's frequent meditations on death and the horror of life are themes which influenced Baudelaire's writings. In gratitude for their friendship and commonality of vision, Baudelaire dedicated Les Fleurs du mal to Gautier.

Édouard Manet

Manet and Baudelaire became constant companions from around 1855. In the early 1860s, Baudelaire accompanied Manet on daily sketching trips and often met him socially. Manet also lent Baudelaire money and looked after his affairs, particularly when Baudelaire went to Belgium. Baudelaire encouraged Manet to strike out on his own path and not succumb to criticism. "Manet has great talent, a talent which will stand the test of time. But he has a weak character. He seems to me crushed and stunned by shock."[37] In his painting Music in the Tuileries, Manet includes portraits of his friends Théophile Gautier, Jacques Offenbach, and Baudelaire.[38] While it's difficult to differentiate who influenced whom, both Manet and Baudelaire discussed and expressed some common themes through their respective arts. Baudelaire praised the modernity of Manet's subject matter: "almost all our originality comes from the stamp that 'time' imprints upon our feelings."[39] When Manet's famous Olympia (1863), a portrait of a nude prostitute, provoked a scandal for its blatant realism mixed with an imitation of Renaissance motifs, Baudelaire worked privately to support his friend, though he offered no public defense (he was, however, ill at the time). When Baudelaire returned from Belgium after his stroke, Manet and his wife were frequent visitors at the nursing home and she would play passages from Wagner for Baudelaire on the piano.[40]


Nadar (Félix Tournachon) was a noted caricaturist, scientist and important early photographer. Baudelaire admired Nadar, one of his closest friends, and wrote: "Nadar is the most amazing manifestation of vitality."[41] They moved in similar circles and Baudelaire made many social connections through him. Nadar's ex-mistress Jeanne Duval became Baudelaire's mistress around 1842. Baudelaire became interested in photography in the 1850s and, denouncing it as an art form, advocated its return to "its real purpose, which is that of being the servant to the sciences and arts". Photography should not, according to Baudelaire, encroach upon "the domain of the impalpable and the imaginary".[42] Nadar remained a stalwart friend right to Baudelaire's last days and wrote his obituary notice in Le Figaro.


Many of Baudelaire's philosophical proclamations were considered scandalous and intentionally provocative in his time. He wrote on a wide range of subjects, drawing criticism and outrage from many quarters.


"There is an invincible taste for prostitution in the heart of man, from which comes his horror of solitude. He wants to be 'two'. The man of genius wants to be 'one'.... It is this horror of solitude, the need to lose oneself in the external flesh, that man nobly calls 'the need to love'."[43][44]


"Unable to suppress love, the Church wanted at least to disinfect it, and it created marriage."[43]

The artist

"The more a man cultivates the arts, the less randy he becomes.... Only the brute is good at coupling, and copulation is the lyricism of the masses. To copulate is to enter into another—and the artist never emerges from himself."[43]


"Personally, I think that the unique and supreme delight lies in the certainty of doing 'evil'–and men and women know from birth that all pleasure lies in evil."[43]

"But what can eternity of damnation matter to someone who has felt, if only for a second, the infinity of delight??"


Along with Poe, Baudelaire named the arch-reactionary Joseph de Maistre as his maître à penser[45] and adopted increasingly aristocratic views. In his journals, he wrote, "There is no form of rational and assured government save an aristocracy. A monarchy or a republic, based upon democracy, are equally absurd and feeble. The immense nausea of advertisements. There are but three beings worthy of respect: the priest, the warrior and the poet. To know, to kill and to create. The rest of mankind may be taxed and drudged, they are born for the stable, that is to say, to practise what they call professions."[46]

The public

"In this regards, my friend, you're like the public, to whom one should never offer a delicate perfume. It exasperates them. Give them only carefully selected garbage." [47]


"The will to work must dominate, for art is long and time is brief."[47] (quoting Hippocrates)

"Each man bears within himself his own dose of natural opium, incessantly secreted and renewed, and, from birth to death, how many hours can we count filled with pleasure, with prosperous and effective action?" [47]


Gustave Courbet 033
Portrait by Gustave Courbet, 1848

Baudelaire's influence on the direction of modern French (and English) language literature was considerable. The most significant French writers to come after him were generous with tributes; four years after his death, Arthur Rimbaud praised him in a letter as 'the king of poets, a true God'.[48] In 1895, Stéphane Mallarmé published a sonnet in Baudelaire's memory, 'Le Tombeau de Charles Baudelaire'. Marcel Proust, in an essay published in 1922, stated that along with Alfred de Vigny, Baudelaire was 'the greatest poet of the nineteenth century'.[49]

In the English-speaking world, Edmund Wilson credited Baudelaire as providing an initial impetus for the Symbolist movement, by virtue of his translations of Poe.[50] In 1930, T. S. Eliot, while asserting that Baudelaire had not yet received a "just appreciation" even in France, claimed that the poet had "great genius" and asserted that his "technical mastery which can hardly be overpraised ... has made his verse an inexhaustible study for later poets, not only in his own language".[51] In a lecture delivered in French on "Edgar Allan Poe and France" (Edgar Poe et la France) in Aix-en-Provence in April 1948, Eliot stated that "I am an English poet of American origin who learnt his art under the aegis of Baudelaire and the Baudelairian lineage of poets."[52] Eliot also alluded to Baudelaire's poetry directly in his own poetry. For example, he quoted the last line of Baudelaire's 'Au Lecteur' in the last line of Section I of 'The Waste Land.'

At the same time that Eliot was affirming Baudelaire's importance from a broadly conservative and explicitly Christian viewpoint,[53] left-wing critics such as Wilson and Walter Benjamin were able to do so from a dramatically different perspective. Benjamin translated Baudelaire's Tableaux Parisiens into German and published a major essay on translation[54] as the foreword.

In the late 1930s, Benjamin used Baudelaire as a starting point and focus for his monumental attempt at a materialist assessment of 19th-century culture, Das Passagenwerk.[55] For Benjamin, Baudelaire's importance lay in his anatomies of the crowd, of the city and of modernity.[56] He says that, in Les Fleurs du mal, "the specific devaluation of the world of things, as manifested in the commodity, is the foundation of Baudelaire's allegorical intention."[57] François Porche published a poetry collection called Charles Baudelaire: Poetry Collection in memory of Baudelaire.

Vanderbilt University has "assembled one of the world's most comprehensive research collections on ... Baudelaire".[58] Les Fleurs du mal has a number of scholarly references.[59]


Baudelaire, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Œuvres complètes, volume I, dos et jaquette
Baudelaire, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Œuvres complètes (Complete Works), volume I.
  • Salon de 1845, 1845
  • Salon de 1846, 1846
  • La Fanfarlo, 1847
  • Les Fleurs du mal, 1857
  • Les paradis artificiels, 1860
  • Réflexions sur Quelques-uns de mes Contemporains, 1861
  • Le Peintre de la Vie Moderne, 1863
  • Curiosités Esthétiques, 1868
  • L'art romantique, 1868
  • Le Spleen de Paris, 1869
  • Translations from Charles Baudelaire, 1869 (Early English translation of several of Baudelaire's poems, by Richard Herne Shepherd)
  • Oeuvres Posthumes et Correspondance Générale, 1887–1907
  • Fusées, 1897
  • Mon Coeur Mis à Nu, 1897
  • Oeuvres Complètes, 1922–53 (19 vols.)
  • Mirror of Art, 1955
  • The Essence of Laughter, 1956
  • Curiosités Esthétiques, 1962
  • The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, 1964
  • Baudelaire as a Literary Critic, 1964
  • Arts in Paris 1845–1862, 1965
  • Selected Writings on Art and Artist, 1972
  • Selected Letters of Charles Baudelaire, 1986
  • Twenty Prose Poems, 1988
  • Critique d'art; Critique musicale, 1992

Musical adaptations

  • French composer Claude Debussy set five of Baudelaire's poems to music in 1890: Cinq poèmes de Charles Baudelaire (Le Balcon, Harmonie du soir, Le Jet d'eau, Recueillement and La Mort des amants).
  • French composer Henri Duparc set two of Beaudelaire's poems to music: "L'Invitation au voyage" in 1870, and "La vie antérieure" in 1884.
  • English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage composed settings of two of Baudelaire's poems, "Harmonie du soir" and "L'Invitation au voyage" for soprano and seven instruments.[60]
  • American electronic musician Ruth White (composer) recorded some of Baudelaire's poems in Les Fleurs du Mal as chants over electronic music in a 1969 recording, Flowers of Evil.
  • French singer-songwriter Léo Ferré devoted himself to set Baudelaire's poetry into music in three albums: Les Fleurs du mal in 1957 (12 poems), Léo Ferré chante Baudelaire in 1967 (24 poems, including one from Le Spleen de Paris), and the posthumous Les Fleurs du mal (suite et fin) (21 poems), recorded in 1977 but released in 2008.
  • Soviet/Russian composer David Tukhmanov has set Baudelaire's poem to music (cult album On a Wave of My Memory, 1975).[61]
  • American avant-garde composer, vocalist and performer Diamanda Galás made an interpretation in original French of Les Litanies de Satan from Les Fleurs du mal, in her debut album titled The Litanies of Satan, which consists of tape and electronics effects with layers of her voice.
  • French singer David TMX recorded the poems "Lesbos" and "Une Charogne" from The Flowers of Evil.
  • French metal/shoegaze groups Alcest and Amesoeurs used his poetry for the lyrics of the tracks "Élévation" (on Le Secret) and "Recueillement" (on Amesoeurs), respectively. Celtic Frost used his poem Tristesses de la lune as a lyrics for song on album Into the Pandemonium.
  • Israeli singer Maor Cohen's 2005 album, the Hebrew name of which translates to French as "Les Fleurs du Mal", is a compilation of songs from Baudelaire's book of the same name. The texts were translated to Hebrew by Israeli poet Dori Manor, while the music was composed by Cohen himself.
  • Italian singer Franco Battiato set Invitation au voyage to music as Invito Al Viaggio on his 1999 album Fleurs (Esempi Affini Di Scritture E Simili).
  • American composer Gérard Pape set Tristesses de la lune/Sorrows of the Moon from Fleurs du Mal for voice and electronic tape.
  • French band Marc Seberg wrote an adaptation of Recueillement for their 1985 album Le Chant Des Terres.
  • Russian heavy metal band Black Obelisk used Russian translations of several Baudelaire poems as lyrics for their songs.
  • French singer Mylène Farmer performed "L'Horloge" to music by Laurent Boutonnat on the album" Ainsi soi je" and the opening number of her 1989 concert tour.
  • German aggrotech band C-Drone-Defect used the translation of "Le Rebelle" by Roy Campbell as lyrics for the song "Rebellis" on their 2009 album Dystopia.
  • English rock band The Cure used the translation of "Les yeux des pauvres" as lyrics for the song "How Beautiful You Are".
  • French singer-songwriter and musician Serge Gainsbourg has set Baudelaire's poem "Dancing Snake" (Le serpent qui danse) to music in his 1964 song "Baudelaire".
  • Greek black metal band Rotting Christ adapted Baudelaire's poem "Les Litanies De Satan" from "Fleurs du Mal" for a song of the same name in their 2016 album Rituals.
  • Belgian female-fronted band Exsangue released the debut video for the single "A une Malabaraise" which lyrics is based on Baudelaire’s same-named sonet in 2016.[62]
  • Belgian electronic music band Modern Cubism has released two albums where poems of Baudelaire are used as lyrics, Les Plaintes d’un Icare in 2008, and live album Live Complaints in 2010.[63]

See also



  1. ^ "Baudelaire". Merriam-Webster.
  2. ^ "By modernity I mean the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent which make up one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immutable." Charles Baudelaire, "The Painter of Modern Life" in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, edited and translated by Jonathan Mayne. London: Phaidon Press, 13.
  3. ^ Charles Baudelaire, Richard Howard. Les Fleurs Du Mal. David R. Godine Publisher, 1983, p.xxv. ISBN 0-87923-462-8, ISBN 978-0-87923-462-1.
  4. ^ Ziegler, Jean (March 1979). "F. Baudelaire (1759-1827) Peintre et Amateur D'art". Gazette des Beaux-Arts (in French). 121 (pt. 1): 109–134.
  5. ^ Boquel, anne; Kern, Étienne (2010). Une histoire des parents d'écrivains : De Balzac à Marguerite Duras (in French). Paris, France: Editions Flammarion. p. 274. ISBN 978-2-0812-2833-7.
  6. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 16
  7. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 35
  8. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 70
  9. ^ Richardson 1994, pp. 67–68
  10. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 71
  11. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 75
  12. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 219.
  13. ^ Vicaire, Georges (1894). Manual de L'Amateur de Livres du XIXe Siècle: 1801-1893. 1. Paris: Librairie A. Rouquette. p. 339.
  14. ^ a b Richardson 1994, p. 110.
  15. ^ Clark, Carol (1995). "Notes on the Text". Selected Poems. By Charles Baudelaire. London: Penguin Books Ltd. p. xxiii. ISBN 978-0-14-044624-1.
  16. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  17. ^ Baudelaire, Charles. Les Fleurs du mal. Paris: Revue des Deux Mondes (XXVe année, seconde série de la nouvelle période, tome dixième), 1855. pp. 1079–1093
  18. ^ Huneker, James. Introductory preface to: The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire. New York: Brentano's, 1919. p. xvii
  19. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 236.
  20. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 241.
  21. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 231.
  22. ^ Richardson 1994, pp. 232–237
  23. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 238.
  24. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 248
  25. ^ a b Richardson 1994, p. 250.
  26. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 311.
  27. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 281.
  28. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 400
  29. ^ "Baudelaire: Une Micro-Histoire".
  30. ^ Haine, Scott. The History of France (1st ed.). Greenwood Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-313-30328-2.
  31. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 268.
  32. ^ Richardson 1994, p. 140.
  33. ^ Hyslop, Lois Boe (1980). Baudelaire, Man of His Time. Yale University Press. p. 14. ISBN 0-300-02513-0.
  34. ^ a b Hyslop (1980), p. 68.
  35. ^ Hyslop (1980), p. 69
  36. ^ Hyslop (1980), p. 131.
  37. ^ Hyslop (1980), p. 55.
  38. ^ "Music in the Tuileries Gardens". The National Gallery. Retrieved July 13, 2008.
  39. ^ Hyslop (1980), p. 53.
  40. ^ Hyslop (1980), p. 51.
  41. ^ Hyslop (1980), p. 65.
  42. ^ Hyslop (1980), p. 63.
  43. ^ a b c d Richardson 1994, p. 50
  44. ^ Baudelaire, Charles (1919). His Prose and Poetry. New York: Boni and Liveright, inc. p. 239.
  45. ^ "The Cambridge Companion to Baudelaire".
  46. ^ "Intimate journals :: :: University of Virginia Library".
  47. ^ a b c Baudelaire, Charles. Translated by William H. Crosby, The Flowers of Evil & Paris Spleen, BOA Editions, Ltd., 1991.
  48. ^ Rimbaud, Arthur: Oeuvres complètes, p. 253, NRF/Gallimard, 1972.
  49. ^ Concerning Baudelaire in Proust, Marcel: Against Sainte-Beuve and Other Essays, p. 286, trans. John Sturrock, Penguin, 1994.
  50. ^ Wilson, Edmund: Axel's Castle, p. 20, Fontana, 1962 (originally published 1931).
  51. ^ 'Baudelaire', in Eliot, T. S.: Selected Essays, pp. 422 and 425, Faber & Faber, 1961.
  52. ^ Eliot, T.S.: Typescript, Hayward Bequest [held at King's College Archives, University of Cambridge]; subsequently adapted for the lecture later published as From Poe to Valéry, The Hudson Review Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn, 1949), pp. 327-342
  53. ^ cf. Eliot, 'Religion in Literature', in Eliot, op. cit., p. 388.
  54. ^ 'The Task of the Translator', in Benjamin, Walter: Selected Writings Vol. 1: 1913–1926, pp. 253–263, Belknap/Harvard, 1996.
  55. ^ Benjamin, Walter: The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, Belknap/Harvard, 1999.
  56. ^ Benjamin, Walter (1996), "The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire", in Benjamin, Walter (ed.), Selected writings: Vol. 4 1938–1940, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press, pp. 3–92, ISBN 9780674010765.
  57. ^ Benjamin, Walter (1996), "The study begins with some reflections on the influence of Les Fleurs du mal", in Benjamin, Walter (ed.), Selected writings: Vol. 4 1938–1940, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press, pp. 94–98, ISBN 9780674010765.
    See also: Marder, Elissa (May 2016). "Inhuman beauty: Baudelaire's bad sex". differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. 27 (1): 1–24. doi:10.1215/10407391-3522733.
  58. ^ "" (PDF).
  59. ^ "Google Scholar".
  60. ^ "Baudelaire Song Project – 200+ poems but how many songs settings?".
  61. ^ "Давид Тухманов".
  62. ^ "Exsangue".
  63. ^ root. "About Modern Cubism". Archived from the original on July 19, 2017. Retrieved June 20, 2017.


External links

Online texts

Single works

Arcades Project

The Passagenwerk or Arcades Project was an unfinished project of German literary critic Walter Benjamin, written between 1927 and 1940. An enormous collection of writings on the city life of Paris in the 19th century, it was especially concerned with Paris' iron-and-glass covered "arcades" (known in French as the passages couverts de Paris).

Benjamin's Project, which many scholars believe might have become one of the great texts of 20th-century cultural criticism, was never completed due to his suicide on the French-Spanish border in 1940. The Arcades Project has been posthumously edited and published in many languages as a collection of unfinished reflections.

Cinq poèmes de Charles Baudelaire

The Cinq poèmes de Charles Baudelaire (CD 64) constitute a song cycle for voice and piano by Claude Debussy, on poems taken from Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire. Composed from December 1887 to March 1889, these five highly developed vocal pieces were not well received by Parisian musical circles because of the Wagnerian influence they revealed.

This aesthetic, following on from the harmonic innovations of Tristan und Isolde, was gradually abandoned by Debussy, addressing the composition of Pelléas et Mélisande. Thus, the Cinq poèmes de Charles Baudelaire represent a particular moment of the musical evolution of Debussy. Musicologists agree that it is "a work of crisis and transition."


Flâneur (pronounced [flɑnœʁ]), from the French noun flâneur, means "stroller", "lounger", "saunterer", or "loafer". Flânerie is the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations. A near-synonym is 'boulevardier'. He is an ambivalent figure of urban riches representing the ability to wander detached from society with no other purpose than to be an acute observer of society.

The flâneur was, first of all, a literary type from 19th-century France, essential to any picture of the streets of Paris. The word carried a set of rich associations: the man of leisure, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street. It was Walter Benjamin, drawing on the poetry of Charles Baudelaire, who made this figure the object of scholarly interest in the 20th century, as an emblematic archetype of urban, modern experience. Following Benjamin, the flâneur has become an important symbol for scholars, artists and writers. Recent scholarship has also proposed the flâneuse, a female equivalent to the flâneur.


IrremeDIABLE is the ninth studio album by the French band Misanthrope. It is also the first concept album by the band, being based on the life and works of Charles Baudelaire. This album was released in two versions: the single CD, and a limited deluxe box containing a CD and a DVD. A video-clip of "Névrose" was made as well.

Jeanne Duval

Jeanne Duval (French pronunciation: ​[ʒan dyˈval]) (c. 1820 – c. 1862) was a Haitian-born actress and dancer of mixed French and black African ancestry. For 20 years, she was the muse of French poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire. They met in 1842, when Duval left Haiti for France, and the two remained together, albeit stormily, for the next two decades. Duval is said to have been the woman whom Baudelaire loved most, in his life, after his mother. She was born in Haiti on an unknown date, sometime around 1820.

Poems of Baudelaire's which are dedicated to Duval or pay her homage include: "Le balcon" (The Balcony), "Parfum exotique" (Exotic Perfume), "La chevelure" (The Hair), "Sed non satiata" (Yet she is not satisfied), "Le serpent qui danse" (The Dancing Serpent), and "Une charogne" (A Carcass).Baudelaire called her "mistress of mistresses" and his "Vénus Noire" ("Black Venus"), and it is believed that, to him, Duval symbolized the dangerous beauty, sexuality, and mystery of a Creole woman in mid-nineteenth century France. She lived at 6, rue de la Femme-sans-tête (Street of the Headless Woman), near the Hôtel Pimodan.

Édouard Manet, a friend of Baudelaire, painted Duval in his 1862 painting Baudelaire's Mistress, Reclining. She was, by this time, going blind.Duval may have died of syphilis as early as 1862, five years prior to Baudelaire, who also died of syphilis. Other sources also claim that Duval survived Baudelaire. Nadar claimed to have seen Duval, last, in 1870—by this time she was on crutches, suffering heavily from syphilis.

L'albatros (poem)

L'Albatros (French for The Albatross), is a poem by decadent French poet Charles Baudelaire.The poem, inspired by an incident on Baudelaire's trip to Bourbon Island in 1841, was begun in 1842 but not completed until 1859 with the addition of the final verse. It was first published in La Revue française in 1859, and was printed as the second poem in the second edition (1861) of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal.Italian writer, literary critic, and university professor Antonio Prete gave the poem a full treatment in his 1994 book L'albatros di Baudelaire.

Le Secret (EP)

Le Secret (French for "The Secret") is an EP by French band Alcest, released in May 2005 through Drakkar Productions. It is Alcest's first release with creator Neige as sole member, as former members Aegnor and Argoth both left after the 2001 demo Tristesse Hivernale, and the only release with Neige as sole performer.

The lyrics to the track "Élévation" come from the eponymous poem by Charles Baudelaire's from his 1857 volume of poetry Les Fleurs du mal. The album was re-recorded and re-released in 2011, with the involvement of new member Winterhalter.

Les Derniers Jours de Charles Baudelaire

Les Derniers Jours de Charles Baudelaire ("the last days of Charles Baudelaire") is a 1988 novel by the French writer Bernard-Henri Lévy, about the life of the poet Charles Baudelaire.

The book was awarded the 1988 Prix Interallié. It was the runner-up for the Prix Goncourt the same year, having lost in the sixth voting round with four votes against five for Érik Orsenna's L'Exposition coloniale.

Les Fleurs du mal

Les Fleurs du mal (French pronunciation: ​[le flœʁ dy mal]; English: The Flowers of Evil) is a volume of French poetry by Charles Baudelaire. First published in 1857 (see 1857 in poetry), it was important in the symbolist and modernist movements. The poems deal with themes relating to decadence and eroticism.

Les Fleurs du mal (Léo Ferré album)

Les Fleurs du mal (English: "The Flowers of Evil") is an album by Léo Ferré, released in 1957 by Odeon Records. It is his first LP dedicated to a poet and this is the first time in popular music history a whole album is dedicated to a dead poet. Léo Ferré has set Baudelaire into music two more times : in 1967 with double album Léo Ferré chante Baudelaire, and with unfinished project Les Fleurs du mal (suite et fin), recorded in 1977 but posthumously released in 2008.

Les Fleurs du mal (suite et fin)

Les Fleurs du mal (suite et fin) (English: "The Flowers of Evil (last and final)") is an album by Léo Ferré, posthumously released in 2008 by La Mémoire et la Mer. It is his third musical effort dedicated to Charles Baudelaire's poetry, after the seminal Les Fleurs du mal in 1957 and the expanding double LP Léo Ferré chante Baudelaire in 1967.

Les Paradis artificiels

Les Paradis Artificiels (Artificial Paradises) is a book by French poet Charles Baudelaire, first published in 1860, about the state of being under the influence of opium and hashish. Baudelaire describes the effects of the drugs and discusses the way in which they could theoretically aid mankind in reaching an "ideal" world. The text was influenced by Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and Suspiria de Profundis.Baudelaire analyzes the motivation of the addict, and the individual psychedelic experience of the user. His descriptions have foreshadowed other such work that emerged later in the 1960s regarding LSD.

Léo Ferré chante Baudelaire

Léo Ferré chante Baudelaire (English: "Léo Ferré sings Baudelaire") is an album by Léo Ferré, released in 1967 by Barclay Records. It is his fourth LP dedicated to a poet, after a first Baudelaire effort in 1957 (Les Fleurs du mal), Les Chansons d'Aragon in 1961, and Verlaine et Rimbaud in 1964. It is also his second studio double album.

Portrait of Charles Baudelaire

Portrait of Charles Baudelaire is a portrait of the poet Charles Baudelaire by Gustave Courbet. The artist himself dated it to 1840, but it seems to have mostly been painted around 1847, a year in which the poet and the painter met frequently. It was shown in the Courbet Pavilion at the 1855 Exposition Universelle and was bought four years later by the publisher Auguste Poulet-Malassis, who then nominally sold it to Charles Asselineau on 15 June 1862 to prevent it being seized. Alfred Bruyas acquired it for 3000 francs and in 1876 gave it to the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, where it still hangs.

The Litanies of Satan

The Litanies of Satan is the debut album by American avant-garde artist Diamanda Galás, released in the United Kingdom by Y Records in 1982; it was released in her home country in 1989.

The Painter's Studio

The Painter's Studio: A real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life (L'Atelier du peintre) is an 1855 oil on canvas painting by Gustave Courbet. It is located in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France.

Courbet painted The Painter's Studio in Ornans, France in 1855. "The world comes to be painted at my studio," said Courbet of the Realist work. The figures in the painting are allegorical representations of various influences on Courbet's artistic life. On the left are human figures from all levels of society. In the center, Courbet works on a landscape, while turned away from a nude model who is a symbol of Academic art. On the right are friends and associates of Courbet, mainly elite Parisian society figures, including Charles Baudelaire, Champfleury, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and Courbet's most prominent patron, Alfred Bruyas.The 1855 Paris World Fair's jury accepted eleven of Courbet's works for the Exposition Universelle, but The Painter's Studio was not among them. In an act of self promotion and defiance, Courbet, with the help of Alfred Bruyas, opened his own exhibition (The Pavilion of Realism) close to the official exposition; this was a forerunner of the various Salon des Refusés. Very little praise was forthcoming, and Eugène Delacroix was one of the few painters who supported the work. Of the painting, Courbet stated that The Painter's Studio "represents society at its best, its worst, and its average."


Weltschmerz (from the German, literally world-pain, also world weariness, pronounced [ˈvɛltʃmɛɐ̯ts]) is a term coined by the German author Jean Paul and denotes the kind of feeling experienced by someone who believes that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind. This kind of world view was widespread among several romantic and decadent authors such as Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, William Blake, the Marquis de Sade, Charles Baudelaire, Giacomo Leopardi, Paul Verlaine, François-René de Chateaubriand, Alfred de Musset, Mikhail Lermontov, Nikolaus Lenau, Hermann Hesse, and Heinrich Heine.Frederick C. Beiser defines Weltschmerz more broadly as "a mood of weariness or sadness about life arising from the acute awareness of evil and suffering", and notes that by the 1860s the word was used ironically in Germany to refer to oversensitivity to those same concerns.

Épater la bourgeoisie

Épater la bourgeoisie or épater le (or les) bourgeois is a French phrase that became a rallying cry for the French Decadent poets of the late 19th century including Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud. It means "to shock the bourgeoisie".The Decadents, fascinated as they were with hashish, opium, and absinthe, found, in Joris-Karl Huysmans' novel À rebours (1884), a sexually perverse hero who secludes himself in his house, basking in life-weariness or ennui, far from the bourgeois society that he despises.

The Aesthetes in England, such as Oscar Wilde, shared these same fascinations. This celebration of "unhealthy" and "unnatural" devotion to life, art and excess has been a continuing cultural theme.

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Poètes maudits d'aujourd'hui: 1946-1970

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