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Baudelaire was also a dandy, clean-shaven in an age of whiskers and dressed immaculately despite squalid domestic circumstances. Never ostentatious, he wore sombre black in mourning for his times. Considering nature to be tyrannical, he championed everything which fought or transcended it, while being, like many of his contemporaries, overtly misogynistic. Nevertheless, he recognised how both genders were trapped within their fleshly prisons and urged resistance to such incarceration through costume and cosmetics, recreational sex, drugs and alcohol.

Baudelaire sounds like many later writers, actors and rock stars, but it is unfair to suggest his cultural importance resides only in his delinquent mannerisms. What makes Baudelaire so significant, and so relevant today, is his recognition in Les Fleurs du Mal, his prose poetry, and essays, that the urbanised, industrial and increasingly godless modern world is radically different from any earlier epoch. Artists responding to these new conditions of existence cannot cling to outworn traditions. They need instead to cast off convention and rethink their relationship to their culture and surroundings.

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He despaired at the gulf between public morality and private vice, and was sickened by the rise of bourgeois respectability, the protestant work ethic, and the sweeping modernisation of Paris itself. He depicted himself as being like the king of a rainy country gripped by an unending despair, prematurely aged, impotent and sorrowful with no clear cause.

More than years after his death, Baudelaire remains a challenging figure — not least for his sexual attitudes. The lament of all who have suffered losses is emphasized by an enjambment that forces a quick draw of breath right before the end of the sentence and that accents the finality of "jamais" never at the beginning of the next sentence:. In Les Fleurs du mal traditional prosody and themes combine with novel thoughts and inspiration to create works of supreme originality. Although there were not many reviews of the second edition of Les Fleurs du mal and not all of those published were favorable, Baudelaire became an established poet with its publication.

Saint-Beuve—though he never did review Les Fleurs du mal —ranked him grudgingly among the leaders of a new generation of poets as he remarked that poets coming along seemed to be in the style of Hugo, Gautier, Banville, and "even Baudelaire. Charles Asselineau in Charles Baudelaire: Sa vie et son oeuvre describes Baudelaire as accepted and blossoming with success after The taint of the trial and of his reputation was too strong, though, and Baudelaire thought it prudent to let his candidacy drop before he met with certain failure.

In the s Baudelaire diversified from poetry in verse to literary activity in several different spheres. The most significant of these essays was his definitive article on modern art. Baudelaire illustrates these principles by discussing in detail the interests and techniques of "CG," his designation for the artist who wished to remain anonymous, from his brush stroke to his Crimean War drawings for the Illustrated London News. Central to Baudelaire's estimation of Guys is that Guys is not an artist but is, rather, a man of the world.

For Baudelaire, a broad interest in the world as opposed to the restricted perspective that he associates with most "artistes" is crucial to interesting art. Along with this line of thought Baudelaire elaborates his notion of the dandy, who is not only the elegant dresser of usual associations but also a man of the world who lives according to the highest aesthetic principles.

Baudelaire also develops his ideas about "la foule," the crowd, which is the solitary artist's domain "as water is for the fish. In that last section, "Eloge du Maquillage" In Praise of Makeup , Baudelaire makes explicit two more concepts that are important to his ethos. Second, as a corollary to the importance he attaches to fashion, makeup, and the codes of the dandy, Baudelaire touches on his unromantic distaste for the natural.

Everything beautiful is beautiful by calculation, he opines.

Art is necessary to correct the natural state of man, which on the physical level is unattractive and on the spiritual level is a state of original sin. By the early s Baudelaire had found a model for his ideals in the person of Guys, and he gave full expression to his artistic aesthetic in "Le Peintre de la vie moderne.


In he published twenty prose poems in La Presse. This landmark year marks a shift in his creative endeavors from poetry in verse to poetry in prose: thereafter most of his creative publications are prose poems. Baudelaire managed to write only fifty of the one hundred prose poems he had projected. Le Spleen de Paris is, as Baudelaire would say, a "singular" assemblage of works that represents an extremely ambitious literary project.

In his correspondence he refers to the prose poems as a "pendant" a completion of to Les Fleurs du mal. Houssaye was the editor of L'Artiste and La Presse , which published some of the prose poems individually. Bertrand did not label his short pieces "prose poems," though: Baudelaire is the first poet to make a radical break with the form of verse by identifying nonmetrical compositions as poetry.

Having mastered the forms of traditional verse, Baudelaire wanted to do nothing less than create a new language. Unlike Bertrand's "picturesque" topics, Baudelaire associates his new language with the modern topic of the city. In contrast with the "architecture" of Les Fleurs du mal , these interconnections are presented without order.

Le Spleen de Paris is modern in that it represents a break with traditional form, is about urban life, and is consciously without order. It is worth noting that in his preface Baudelaire refers to the form of the work as "prose lyrique. Did Baudelaire succeed in his ambition to forge a new poetic language? Most critics have tended to discuss the themes of the poems rather than their form, however, accepting poetry in Baudelaire's wake as an attitude rather than a set of rules.

This collection, which has been growing in popularity among critics, still contains much to be explored. Baudelaire's poems in prose are short anecdotes, bitter satires, and reveries about unusual topics, including dogs, mud, aged tumblers, windows, widows, and poor people standing outside fancy eating establishments.

Several critics, notably Pierre Emmanuel, have noted that there is more compassion in these works than in Baudelaire's poetry in verse. This compassion can take strange forms—the speaker of "Les Yeux des pauvres" The Eyes of the Poor is so moved by a family of poor people that he hates the companion he had loved for her lack of sympathy.

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In fact, the speaker in "Mademoiselle Bistouri" concludes by praying to God—as opposed to the devil—to have pity on crazy people. Furthermore, while many of the prose poems are about ugliness, they often accept and possibly even transcend ugliness. As with Les Fleurs du mal , it would be a mistake to pigeonhole the poems in this collection, which unlike his first has no headings. As critics have noticed from the very beginning, however, the prose poems address banalities and travails of life quite differently from Les Fleurs du mal.

In fact, Henri Peyre, an eminent scholar of French poetry, argues in Connaissance de Baudelaire that Le Spleen de Paris has had a greater influence on poetry than Les Fleurs du mal. Le Spleen de Paris undoubtedly has had a significant influence on modern poetry. During the period in which he was seriously exploring prose poetry, Baudelaire experienced a series of financial disasters.

He had sold his writings to Poulet-Malassis, who had gone bankrupt in La Presse stopped publishing his poetry in prose.

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Baudelaire arrived in Brussels on 24 April and checked into the Hotel du Grand Miroir, where he stayed, enduring a miserable sojourn, until his stroke in He did not even bother to deliver the entire talk. In addition to the disappointment of the lecture series, Baudelaire did not make contact with Lacroix, who never accepted his invitations.

Despite his unhappy situation, Baudelaire stayed on in Belgium, perhaps because he was hoping for a satirical book to come out of the stay, perhaps because he did not want to return to France without something to show for the trip, or perhaps because he could not pay his hotel bill. There was no effective cure for syphilis in his day, and so although he thought he was cured of it in the early s, his disease erupted in , and again in the spring of In letters from January he describes recurrent and distressing symptoms.

The doctors never mentioned syphilis in connection with his final illness, but it seems very likely that the cerebral hemorrhage of 15 March was caused by the debilitating effects of the disease. The Rops took Baudelaire back to Brussels, and by 31 March paralysis had set in. By 4 April, Baudelaire was incapable of speaking coherently.

Charles Baudelaire

Baudelaire was eventually moved into a hydrotherapeutic establishment, and it was there that he died on 31 August This aphasic state was special torture for him because he seemed to understand what was going on around him but was unable to express himself. He had wanted to find a publisher for them before his stroke, and his friends organized themselves to bring about what had become a last wish. Ever the perfectionist, Baudelaire wanted to oversee the production of the manuscript. He knew, however, that he was in no condition to do so.

Though Baudelaire was accepted as a poet during his lifetime, his status with nineteenth-century critics was tenuous. Baudelaire is now an important figure in the literary canon. Critical articles and books about him abound; the W.

Bandy Center for Baudelaire Studies at Vanderbilt University is devoted to recording all major publications on the author and his work. In the s and s the prose poems seem to have become a particularly appealing topic for scholars of Baudelaire. Unlike Hugo, who cultivated his relationship with the public, Baudelaire in his career set himself apart by cultivating an eccentric image, by living an unconventional life, by writing poetry in verse that used romantic topoi to upset them, and by launching a new form.

While he did seek recognition, Baudelaire and his poetry are defined by their distinct individuality. Willing to outrage public opinion and yet desirous of popular acclaim, he spoke penetratingly on the human condition. Prose Home Harriet Blog. Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library. Newsletter Subscribe Give. Poetry Foundation. Back to Previous. Charles Baudelaire. Of whomever has lost that which can Never, never be found again!


Poems by Charles Baudelaire. Related Content. More About this Poet. Region: France. Poems by This Poet Related Bibliography. Appeared in Poetry Magazine. The Abyss. The Flawed Bell. The Fountain. The Injured Moon Tr. The Ragpickers' Wine.

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