Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire was born in Paris, France, in 1921. After his aging father, Francois, died when Baudelaire was six years old, he grew very close to his mother, Caroline Dufays, who had been thirty years her husband’s junior. However, Baudelaire could not accept his mother’s remarriage to Major Jacques Aupick, which caused a rift between the mother and son. Baudelaire was sent to boarding school in Lyons where he was expelled just before graduating. Then began a downward spiral into opium, debt, and a bohemian lifestyle.

Baudelaire’s mother and stepfather tried to resolve his extravagances by sending him to India in 1841. He returned to Paris less than a year later and met Jeanne Duval who would be his inspirational muse for most of his life. He inherited a large sum of money at this time and spent nearly half of it in two short years; his … [Not long after Les Fleurs was published, Baudelaire began to feel the effects of his early years of carousing when he suffered from strokes believed to have been caused by alcohol, opium, and hashish abuse] …family ordered him, with the assistance of a judge, to employ a lawyer to dole out an allowance on which he was to live. At that point, in 1844, Baudelaire began to write for journals and magazines to generate an income and his poetry surfaced in Parisian publications later in the decade. He also wrote an autobiographical novel called La Fanfarlo, published in 1847, and translated the writing of Edgar Allan Poe, whom he revered as a kindred spirit, during 1854 and 1855.

In 1857 Baudelaire published his most famous–or perhaps infamous–collection of poetry, Les Fleurs du mal. Six poems were removed from the work until 1949 because of their subject matter and courts found Baudelaire, as well as his publisher and printer, guilty of “obscenity and blasphemy.” Baudelaire’s poetry employed classical symbolism and striking imagery to describe the chasm between the beautiful and the dying, looking most especially in the city of Paris. The author did not publish any other substantial volumes of poetry before his death, but he continued to write poems and critical essays.

Not long after Les Fleurs was published, Baudelaire began to feel the effects of his early years of carousing when he suffered from strokes believed to have been caused by alcohol, opium, and hashish abuse. His financial situation began to decay and, on August 31, 1867, Baudelaire died in Paris with his beloved mother at his side. A collection of prose poems, titled Petits poemes en prose, was published posthumously in 1869. The volume was hailed an unprecedented break from the traditional constraints of meter and verse.