Title: Les Fleurs du Mal
Author: Charles Baudelaire
Publisher: Libraire Alphonse Lemerre, Paris. 1925. Very, VERY scarce.
Condition: Hardcover, leather spine. In good+ condition. Tightly bound, internally clean. A good-looking book.
All text is in the original French.
Charles Baudelaire (from poetryfoundation.org)
Charles Baudelaire is one of the most compelling poets of the nineteenth century. While Baudelaire’s contemporary Victor Hugo is generally—and sometimes regretfully—acknowledged as the greatest of nineteenth-century French poets, Baudelaire excels in his unprecedented expression of a complex sensibility and of modern themes within structures of classical rigor and technical artistry. Baudelaire is distinctive in French literature also in that his skills as a prose writer virtually equal his ability as a poet. His body of work includes a novella, influential translations of the American writer Edgar Allan Poe, highly perceptive criticism of contemporary art, provocative journal entries, and critical essays on a variety of subjects. Baudelaire’s work has had a tremendous influence on modernism, and his relatively slim production of poetry in particular has had a significant impact on later poets. More than a talent of nineteenth-century France, Baudelaire is one of the major figures in the literary history of the world.
Les Fleurs du mal (English: The Flowers of Evil) is a volume of French poetry by Charles Baudelaire. First published in 1857, it was important in the symbolist and modernist movements. The subject matter of these poems deals with themes relating to decadence and eroticism.
The author and the publisher were prosecuted under the regime of the Second Empire as an outrage aux bonnes mœurs (trans. “an insult to public decency”). As a consequence of this prosecution, Baudelaire was fined 300 francs. Six poems from the work were suppressed and the ban on their publication was not lifted in France until 1949. These poems were “Lesbos”, “Femmes damnés (À la pâle clarté)” (or “Women Doomed (In the pale glimmer…)”), “Le Léthé” (or “Lethe”), “À celle qui est trop gaie” (or “To Her Who Is Too Gay”), “Les Bijoux” (or “The Jewels”), and ” Les “Métamorphoses du Vampire” (or “The Vampire’s Metamorphoses”). These were later published in Brussels in a small volume entitled Les Épaves (Jetsam).
On the other hand, upon reading “The Swan” or “Le Cygne” from Les Fleurs du mal, Victor Hugo announced that Baudelaire had created “un nouveau frisson” (a new shudder, a new thrill) in literature.
The initial publication of the book was arranged in six thematically segregated sections:
Spleen et Idéal (Spleen and Ideal)
Tableaux parisiens (Parisian Scenes)
Le Vin (Wine)
Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil)
La Mort (Death)
Si le viol, le poison, le poignard, l’incendie,
N’ont pas encore brodé de leurs plaisants dessins
Le canevas banal de nos piteux destins,
C’est que notre âme, hélas! n’est pas assez hardie.