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Charles Baudelaire was a French poet best known for his controversial volume of poems, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil).
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Charles Baudelaire was a French poet born on April 9, 1821, in Paris, France. In 1845, he published his first work. Baudelaire gained notoriety for his 1857 volume of poems, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil). His themes of sex, death, lesbianism, metamorphosis, depression, urban corruption, lost innocence and alcohol not only gained him loyal followers, but also garnered controversy. The courts punished Baudelaire, his publisher and the book's printer for offending public morality,
"A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors."
"A frenzied passion for art is a canker that devours everything else."
and as such, suppressed six of the poems. Baudelaire died on August 31, 1867 in Paris.
Charles Baudelaire was born in Paris, France on April 9, 1821, to François Baudelaire, a senior civil servant and amateur artist, and his wife, Caroline. After François died, in 1827, Caroline married Lieutenant Colonel Jacques Aupick, who later became a prominent ambassador.
As a young man, Baudelaire studied law at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. Dissatisfied with his choice of profession, he began to drink daily, hire prostitutes and run up considerable debts. Upon obtaining his degree in 1839, Baudelaire chose not to pursue law—to his mother’s chagrin—and turned to a career in literature instead.
In 1841, Baudelaire's stepfather sent him on a voyage to India, in an effort to redirect his stepson's energy. The themes of the sea, sailing and exotic ports that appeared in Baudelaire's later poetry were largely inspired by this experience. Upon his return to Paris, Baudelaire became friends with other authors and artists. He also began a lifelong relationship with Jeanne Duval. When his parents rejected the coupling, a troubled Baudelaire attempted suicide.
Baudelaire soon began to publish his writing. His first published work was an 1845 art review, which attracted immediate attention. Many of his critical opinions, including his championing of Delacroix, were bold and prophetic. In 1846, Baudelaire wrote his second art review, establishing himself as an advocate of Romanticism.
Baudelaire struggled with poor health and pressing debts throughout his adult life. He moved frequently to escape creditors, making it difficult to devote himself to any one project. However, he did manage to produce translations of stories by Edgar Allan Poe, whose work he greatly admired, as well as write the works of poetry for which he would eventually become known.
In 1857, Baudelaire published his first and most famous volume of poems, Les Fleurs du mal ("The Flowers of Evil"). The poems found a small but enthusiastic audience. The principal themes of sex and death, however, created a public scandal. Other themes included lesbianism, metamorphosis, depression, urban corruption, lost innocence and alcohol.
Baudelaire, his publisher and the book's printer were prosecuted for creating an offense against public morality. Six of the poems were suppressed. Many notables of the era, including Gustave Flaubert and Victor Hugo, rallied behind Baudelaire and condemned the decision.
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With its natural splendor and key geographic location, France has forever been the destination of marauding hordes—whether they be sword-wielding barbarians or camera-toting tourists. However, these Frenchmen and Frenchwomen have extended their influence outward, beyond the borders of the Hexagone, through art, invention and philosophy. C'etait magnifique, or, as deemed by the aforementioned title, fantastically French.
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