The Flowers of Evil

By Charles Baudelaire; James McGowan | Go to book overview

NOTE ON THE TEXT

The first edition of Les Fleurs du Mal was published in 1857 by Poulet-Malassis et De Broise, a firm run by a young publisher, Auguste Poulet-Malassis. It contained one hundred poems, plus the prefatory poem 'To the Reader': the vast majority of these poems, seventy-seven, comprised the first section, 'Spleen and the Ideal'; twelve were included in the section entitled 'Flowers of Evil', three in 'Revolt', five in 'Wine', and three in the final section, 'Death'. A table listing the poems of this edition and their placement follows on pp. xxxix-xlv. In the trial of 1857, six poems were condemned for offence to public morals; the copies of the first edition were seized and the six poems were forbidden to be published in France. (In fact, the decision condemning them was reversed only in 1949, nearly a century later, although editions of Les Fleurs du Mal containing the banned poems had been sold for some time without attracting the attention of the police.)

Since most of the first edition had been confiscated, Baudelaire and Poulet-Malassis needed to produce a second edition. With considerable irritation, Baudelaire went back to work: 'To have to start again on these damned Fleurs du Mal!' he complained ( 19 Feb. 1858). He undertook to compose twenty new poems, but in fact 1858-60 turned out to be one of his greatest periods of creativity and the new edition, which finally appeared early in 1861, contained thirty-five new poems. (In addition, Baudelaire made some changes, mostly minor, to the poems already published.) This 1861 edition, also published by Poulet-Malassis, is the one generally followed by modern editions of Baudelaire and is the one used here. It has the disadvantage, however, of omitting from the body of the work the six banned poems; we have chosen to reinsert them according to their place in the 1857 edition. This procedure has the advantage of enriching the sections to which these six poems belong and of preventing readers from considering them above all as poems that were banned. The table below indicates

-xxxviii-

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The Flowers of Evil
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction xiii
  • Note on the Text xxxviii
  • Select Bibliography xlix
  • A Chronology of Charles Baudelaire li
  • Translator''s Preface liv
  • Spleen et Idéal 8
  • Tableaux Parisiens 164
  • Le Vin 212
  • Fleurs Du Mal 226
  • Révolte 262
  • La Mort 274
  • Les Épaves 294
  • Additions de la Troisième édition Des Fleurs Du Mal (1868) 328
  • Explanatory Notes 350
  • Index of Titles 386
  • Index of First Lines 391
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