Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire (shärl bōdlâr´), 1821–67, French poet and critic. His poetry, classical in form, introduced symbolism (see symbolists) by establishing symbolic correspondences among sensory images (e.g., colors, sounds, scents). The only volume of his poems published in his lifetime, Les Fleurs du mal (1857, enl. 1861, 1868; several Eng. tr., The Flowers of Evil), was publicly condemned as obscene, and six of the poems were suppressed. Later recognized as a masterpiece, the volume is especially remarkable for the brilliant phrasing, rhythm, and expressiveness of its lyrics. Baudelaire's erratic personality was marked by moodiness, rebelliousness, and an intense religious mysticism. His life was burdened with debts, misunderstanding, illness, and excesses, and his work unremittingly reflects inner despair. The main theme is the inseparable nature of beauty and corruption. A collection of poetic prose pieces was published posthumously as Petits poèmes en prose (1869). As poet and critic Baudelaire earned distinction in literary circles. Believing criticism to be a function of the poet, he wrote perceptive appraisals of his contemporaries. His criticism was collected posthumously in Curiosités esthétiques (1868) and L'Art romantique (1869). He felt a great affinity to Poe, whose works he translated and brought to the attention of the French public. One of the great figures of French literature, Baudelaire has also been a major influence in other Western poetry.

See his letters (tr. by S. Morini and F. Tuten, 1970), his intimate journal (tr. by C. Isherwood, 1947), and selected letters (tr. and ed. by L. B. and F. E. Hyslop, 1957); biography by E. Starkie (rev. ed. 1958), studies by J.-P. Sartre (1950, repr. 1972) and M. A. Ruff (1965).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Flowers of Evil
Charles Baudelaire; James McGowan.
Oxford University Press, 1998
The Mirror of Art, Critical Studies
Charles Baudelaire; Jonathan Mayne; Jonathan Mayne.
Phaidon Publishers, 1955
The Centennial Celebration of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs Du Mal
Charles Baudelaire.
University of Texas Press, 1958
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
Baudelaire's Tragic Hero: A Study of the Architecture of Les Fleurs Du Mal
D. J. Mossop.
Oxford University Press, 1961
Baudelaire's Prose Poems: The Practice and Politics of Irony
Sonya Stephens.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Baudelaire and the Art of Memory
J. A. Hiddleston.
Clarendon Press, 1999
Baudelaire and the Aesthetics of Bad Faith
Susan Blood.
Stanford University, 1997
Six French Poets of the Nineteenth Century: Lamartine, Hugo, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarme
E. H. Blackmore; A. M. Blackmore.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Gender on the Divide: The Dandy in Modernist Literature
Jessica R. Feldman.
Cornell University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Mundus Muliebris: Baudelaire's Dandy"
A Cadaver in Clothes: Autobiography and the Dandy in Baudelaire
Burt, E. S.
The Romanic Review, Vol. 96, No. 1, January 2005
Rousseau's Legacy: Emergence and Eclipse of the Writer in France
Dennis Porter.
Oxford University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Charles Baudelaire: Portrait of the Poet as Anti-Writer"
Mud into Gold: Baudelaire and the Alchemy of Public Hygiene
Cohen, Emily Jane.
The Romanic Review, Vol. 87, No. 2, March 1996
Telling Stories in Baudelaire's Spleen De Paris.(Critical Essay)
Krueger, Cheryl.
Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Spring-Summer 2002
Any Where out of This Verse: Baudelaire's Prose Poetics and the Aesthetics of Transgression
Jamison, Anne.
Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Spring-Summer 2001
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