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John James Toffey
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Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal is published1.6.1857

Wikipedia (06 May 2013, 09:58)
Les Fleurs du 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 subject matter of these poems deals with themes relating to decadence and eroticism.


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)
- Révolte (Revolt)
- La Mort (Death)

Baudelaire's section Tableau Parisiens is considered one of the most formidable criticisms of 19th-century French modernity. This section contains 18 poems, most of which were written during the Haussmann's renovation of Paris. Together, the poems in Tableau Parisiens act as 24 hour cycle of Paris, starting with the second poem Le Soleil (The Sun) and ending with the second to last poem Le Crépuscule du Matin (Morning Crepuscule). The poems featured in this cycle of Paris all deal with the feelings of anonymity and estrangement from a newly modernized city. Baudelaire is critical of the clean and geometric streets of Paris which alienate the unsung anti-heroes of Paris who serve as inspiration for the poet: the beggars, the blind, the industrial worker, the gambler, the prostitute, the old and the victim of imperialism. These characters whom Baudelaire once praised as the backbone of Paris are now eulogized in his nostalgic poems. For Baudelaire, the city has been transformed into an anthill of identical bourgeois that reflect the new identical structures that litter a Paris he once called home but can now no longer recognize.

Literary significance and criticism

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.

In the wake of the prosecution a second edition was issued in 1861 which added 32 new poems, removed the six suppressed poems and added a new section entitled Tableaux Parisiens.

A posthumous third edition with a preface by Théophile Gautier and including 14 previously unpublished poems was issued in 1868.

In popular culture

The 2009 manga/2013 anime Aku no Hana was based on Les Fleurs du mal set in modern Japanese society. The main character, Takao Kasuga, steals the gym clothes of his crush, Nanako Saeki, after being inspired by an excerpt from the aforementioned work.

Marilyn Manson released a song entitled "The Flowers of Evil" from his 2012 album Born Villain.

" Beautiful moments of our lives."