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This engaging summary presents an analysis of The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire, who is now considered to be a pioneer of the symbolist and modernist movements. In this collection of controversial poetry, he defies traditional conventions and seeks a new form of poetic expression. Upon its release, the work was very controversial and was considered to be an "insult to public decency", causing the author to be fined. Yet Baudelaire's unique writing style was gradually accepted and inspired a whole generation of poets that followed him.
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Baudelaire is considered to be one of the greatest poets of the nineteenth century. His collection The Flowers of Evil (1857) is a major work of modernity, through which Baudelaire reinvented poetic aesthetics.
Born in 1821, at an early age Baudelaire was marked by a sense of loneliness, pain and bitterness caused by the death of his father. His mother remarried some time later to a soldier, commander Aupick, who the young Baudelaire hated as he represented the exact opposite of what he aspired to be, i.e. a creator, a poet. In his youth, Baudelaire led a dissolute, easy life. After having squandered his paternal inheritance, drowning in a sea of debts, he was placed back into the care of his mother and commander Aupick. Baudelaire then mixed with the great artists and intellectuals of his time such as Barbey d’Aurevilly, Théophile Gautier and Edgar Allen Poe, for whom he became a translator. He died in Paris in 1867 of syphilis.
In 1857, the first edition of The Flowers of Evil was published. Upon its release, the collection was violently attacked by critics, to the point where a judicial investigation was opened against Baudelaire. He was accused of violating religious morality, public morality and public decency. In the end, only the last charge was upheld: the author was sentenced to a heavy fine and forced to remove six poems from the collection. This decision caused him despair, especially since he had always said that The Flowers of Evil followed a ‘secret structure’: the condemnation of six pieces questioned the integrity of his work. He began writing more poems to replace them, and the second edition of The Flowers of Evil
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