Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire, the great French poet of the mid nineteenth century whose powerful writing ushered in a era of symbolism, is one of the most important poets of the nineteenth century.   Not only a poet of stunning imagery and extraordinary musicality, he was also one of the first to herald that new consciousness -- urban, pushing at the edges of things, uncertain of itself -- which we, today, still recognize as our own modern way of being.

    Baudelaire life was almost as important as his poetry.  His rejection of bourgeois values, his use of drugs, his fascination with sex, his close friendships with painters and other poets: all of these made him a sort of model for the poet as a 'bohemian' figure.  He is the archetype of the poet as someone who lives his own life on the fringes of society, rebellious in life style, dedicated to moving so far beyond the middle class that his work shocks them so deeply that their either cry out, 'But is it art?' or attempt to censor it as blasphemous, evil, pornographic.

    Brief versions of his biography are available on-line in several of the links below.

To hear a discussion of four poems from Baudelaire celebrated Les Fleurs du Mal  (The Flowers of Evil), Just CLICK on this photograph of the poet, below:

A wonderful evocative response to Baudelaire is Henri Matisse's drawing:

                                                                           Henri Matisse - portrait de Baudelaire
                                                              Etching from the "Poésies de Stéphane Mallarmé," Editions Skira, 1932.
                                                           Image from"Henri Matisse roman" par Aragon, aux Editions Gallimard (1971)


Charles Baudelaire
Detail of a painting by Fantin-Latour

This page created and composed by Huck Gutman, Professor of English at the University of Vermont
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