Correspondencias Charles Baudelaire Analysis Essay

“To A Passer-By,” was published in a poetry book, To Flowers of Evil, written by French poet Charles Baudelaire. This poem was published in 1857. The original version of this poem was written in French. A best known English translated version is by William Aggeler. “To A Passer-By” is a sonnet that has four verses, which start with two quatrains and ends with two trecets. The subject of this poem is what a flâneur does when walking along the streets of Paris. The scene shown in this poem is the speaker playing the role of a flâneur, he sees a widow, chances are she will be in poverty soon, even become a prostitute to support herself. The speaker does not think of this, instead, he thinks about how seeing her reanimates him. When she vanishes the speaker wonders if he will have a chance to see her again, because of the vast population of the city.

Another Baudelaire poem,“One O’Clock In The Morning,” shares a few similarities to “To A Passerby.” Both poems mention the speaker trying to escape, but in “To A Passer-By, the speaker finds an escape. In “One O’Clock In The Morning,” the speaker discusses what is happening in the city in the morning. In the second paragraph of this prose poem, the speaker says, “Finally! So I’m allowed to relax in a bath of darkness!” The speaker vents about the chaos around the city and give a negative evaluation of the city. The speaker mentions how claustrophobic the city is and to be alone is what he needs. The subject and tone in this poem are escaped, the speaker tries so hard to escape from society. Throughout “One O’Clock In The Morning” the reader realizes that even though he escapes the crowds, the speaker still lives in sorrow. However, in “To A Passer-By,” the speaker is admiring the crowd as the flâneur. The woman in this poem represents the features of a crowd. The speaker wants her to stay, but when she leaves the speaker mourns for her disappearance. Also, both poems are opposite of each other because in “One O’Clock In The Morning,” the speaker is wanting to escape from the people of the city and is not playing the role of the flâneur. Whereas in “To Passer-by,” the speaker is reanimating himself with a woman, playing the role of the flâneur.

I split “To A Passer-By” into three different parts. The rationale of my division is to divide the poem where the speaker changes from emotion to emotion. In the first section, “The street about me roared with a deafening sound,” describes the effect the city has on the speaker. In the second section, the speaker moves his focus to a woman, who grabs the speaker’s attention away from the noise of the city life. From the first section to this second section, the speaker’s mood changes from irritation to a deep admiration of the woman. In the third section, the speaker’s emotions jump back to the attention of the city. From the second section to the third section, the speaker becomes aware of the city life again. The speaker takes on the role of the flâneur when noticing the emotions of the woman. From the first section to the third section, the speaker is concentrated on Paris, but in a different way. The speaker is now realizing that in the city because there are so many people, the speaker has a less chance of seeing a person again.

In the first section, in the first line of the poem, the speaker’s emotions are focused on how “deafening” the surroundings are. The speaker is a part of the “deafening sound” because the speaker is moving within in the city. The sounds of the public affect him so much that his internal self-begins to “roar.” The poet uses “roaring” as a metaphor for the speaker’s reaction to the city. The word “roar” allows the speaker to be seen as prey to the city. The use of the word “roar” makes the reader view the city as a lion.

In the second section, in the second line, “Tall, slender, in heavy mourning, majestic grief,” the speaker becomes distracted from concentrating on the city and becomes fixated on a woman. From the first line to the second line, the speaker’s change in perspective is shown through a range of emotions from irritation to admiration with just one sudden glance at the women. The speaker uses “majestic” to express admiration, and pairs this uplifting word with an unhappy word such as “mourning” creating a paradoxical line. It seems as if the speaker is beautifying the woman’s mourning time instead of feeling sympathy for her sadness. The words “heaving mourning, majestic grief” describe the action of the woman.

In the third line, “A woman passed, with a glittering hand” is a confirmation that the woman is in a mourning period, which is a part of France’s culture. Distinguishing the second and third lines, the speaker gives the predicate before the subject. In the fourth line, “Raising, swinging the hem and flounces of her skirt;” the speaker is solely focused on the woman more than the sounds of the city. “Swinging the hem and flounces on her skirt” explains how the woman is walking. In the fifth line, “Agile and graceful, her leg was like a statue's” the speaker uses a metaphor to compare the woman to a lifeless object such as a statue. In this same line, the reader sees the distinction between life and non-life. The speaker is classifying the woman as a piece of marble, which is often shining. The speaker is viewing the woman as a soft, smooth substance such as marble, a common material used for a statue.

Additionally, in this second section, in the sixth line, “Tense as in a delirium, I drank,” the speaker uses “drank” to express ways to take the woman’s grief away. The speaker compares her emotions as a liquid substance rather than just feelings. In the seventh line, “From her eyes, pale sky where tempests germinate” the speaker is describing the woman’s eyes. The speaker is using the woman’s eyes as a metaphor for the sky, which moves in circles, also a common shape for some eyes.“Where tempests germinate,” the speaker is going to the source of what is making the woman cry. In the eighth line, “The sweetness that enthralls and the pleasure that kills” the speaker is showing the captivation of the woman’s appearance. “Pleasure that kills” is a dysphemism because the speaker uses an unpleasant word “kill” to express the woman’s beauty. The speaker is saying the beauty of the woman is so good, that it kills.

In the third section, the ninth line, “A lightning flash . . . then night! Fleeting beauty” the speaker snaps back to the reality of the city, which is a place where crowds of people move quickly to get to their destination. In the tenth line, “By whose glance I was suddenly reborn,” the speaker is comparing the woman’s beauty to resuscitation, which is a process used to revive someone. In the eleventh line, “Will I see you no more before eternity?” the speaker contradicts himself from the first section where he wants to get away from the loud noise of the city. In contrast, now the speaker wants the woman, who represents the city; a place that makes the speaker feel like prey. In the twelfth line, “Elsewhere, far, far from here! too late! never perhaps!” the speaker wonders if he has a chance to see the beautiful woman again. “Far from here! Too late! Never perhaps” suggests the view of the woman is getting farther from the speaker. A number of exclamation points causes a change of rhythm that goes from calm to anxious. In the thirteenth line, “For I know not where you fled, you know not where I go,” again the speaker is aware the woman will never appear in sight again. In the fourteenth line, “O you whom I would have loved, O you who knew it!” the speaker talks as if the woman is a lost love that he never got to flourish.

In Baudelaire’s poem “To A Passerby” the speaker changes the rhythm throughout the poem. In the first section, he is annoyingly fixated on the city life as a flâneur. In the second section, the speaker singles out one woman, who seems to have her life filled with despair. In the third section, the speaker is back to reality but realizes that he wants the sight of the woman back, which is an escape from the noise of the city. In each line, the speaker goes more in depth about how the woman makes him feel, and how a flâneur analyzes their surroundings. In this poem, the speaker views the woman as an object that he wants to possess. He imbues the woman with his own feelings without attempting to comprehend her feelings. To gain a further knowledge of Parisian urban poetry, I would recommend another poem by Baudelaire called “Crowds,” where he uses a carnival scene as a metaphor for society.

"Baudelaire" redirects here. For other uses, see Baudelaire (disambiguation).

Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire by Étienne Carjat, 1863

BornCharles Pierre Baudelaire
April 9, 1821
Paris, France
DiedAugust 31, 1867(1867-08-31) (aged 46)
Paris, France
OccupationPoet, art critic, philosopher
EducationLycée Louis-le-Grand
Literary movementDecadent


Charles Pierre Baudelaire (;[1]French: [ʃaʁl bodlɛʁ] ( listen); April 9, 1821 – August 31, 1867) was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe.

His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century. Baudelaire's highly original style of prose-poetry influenced a whole generation of poets including Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé among many others. He is credited with coining the term "modernity" (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and art's responsibility to capture that experience.[2]

Early life[edit]

Baudelaire was born in Paris, France, on April 9, 1821, and baptized two months later at Saint-Sulpice Roman Catholic Church.[3] His father, François Baudelaire, a senior civil servant and amateur artist, was 34 years older than Baudelaire's mother, Caroline. François died during Baudelaire's childhood, in 1827. The following year, Caroline married Lieutenant Colonel Jacques Aupick, who later became a French ambassador to various noble courts. Baudelaire's biographers have often seen this as a crucial moment, considering that finding himself no longer the sole focus of his mother's affection left him with a trauma, which goes some way to explaining the excesses later apparent in his life. He stated in a letter to her that, "There was in my childhood a period of passionate love for you."[4] Baudelaire regularly begged his mother for money throughout his career, often promising that a lucrative publishing contract or journalistic commission was just around the corner.

Baudelaire was educated in Lyon, where he boarded. At fourteen he was described by a classmate as "much more refined and distinguished than any of our fellow pupils ... we are bound to one another ... by shared tastes and sympathies, the precocious love of fine works of literature."[5] Baudelaire was erratic in his studies, at times diligent, at other times prone to "idleness". Later, he attended the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris, studying law, a popular course for those not yet decided on any particular career. He began to frequent prostitutes and may have contracted gonorrhea and syphilis during this period. He also began to run up debts, mostly for clothes. Upon gaining his degree in 1839, he told his brother "I don't feel I have a vocation for anything." His stepfather had in mind a career in law or diplomacy, but instead Baudelaire decided to embark upon a literary career. His mother later recalled: "Oh, what grief! If Charles had let himself be guided by his stepfather, his career would have been very different.... He would not have left a name in literature, it is true, but we should have been happier, all three of us."[6]

His stepfather sent him on a voyage to Calcutta, India, in 1841 in the hope of ending his dissolute habits. The trip provided strong impressions of the sea, sailing, and exotic ports, that he later employed in his poetry.[7] (Baudelaire later exaggerated his aborted trip to create a legend about his youthful travels and experiences, including "riding on elephants".) On returning to the taverns of Paris, he began to compose some of the poems of "Les Fleurs du Mal". At 21, he received a sizable inheritance but squandered much of it within a few years. His family obtained a decree to place his property in trust,[8] which he resented bitterly, at one point arguing that allowing him to fail financially would have been the one sure way of teaching him to keep his finances in order.

Baudelaire became known in artistic circles as a dandy and free-spender. During this time, Jeanne Duval became his mistress. She was rejected by his family. His mother thought Duval a "Black Venus" who "tortured him in every way" and drained him of money at every opportunity.[9] Baudelaire made a suicide attempt during this period.

He took part in the Revolutions of 1848 and wrote for a revolutionary newspaper. However, his interest in politics was passing, as he was later to note in his journals.

In the early 1850s, Baudelaire struggled with poor health, pressing debts, and irregular literary output. He often moved from one lodging to another to escape creditors. He undertook many projects that he was unable to complete, though he did finish translations of stories by Edgar Allan Poe.

Upon the death of his stepfather in 1857, Baudelaire received no mention in the will but he was heartened nonetheless that the division with his mother might now be mended. At 36 he wrote her: "believe that I belong to you absolutely, and that I belong only to you".[10]

Published career[edit]

His first published work was his art review "Salon of 1845", which attracted immediate attention for its boldness. Many of his critical opinions were novel in their time, including his championing of Delacroix, and some of his views seem remarkably in tune with the future theories of the Impressionist painters.

In 1846, Baudelaire wrote his second Salon review, gaining additional credibility as an advocate and critic of Romanticism. His support of Delacroix as the foremost Romantic artist gained widespread notice.[11] The following year Baudelaire's novella La Fanfarlo was published.

The Flowers of Evil[edit]

Baudelaire was a slow and fastidious worker, often sidetracked by indolence, emotional distress and illness, and it was not until 1857 that he published his first and most famous volume of poems, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil).[12] Some of these poems had already appeared in the Revue des deux mondes (Review of Two Worlds) in 1855, when they were published by Baudelaire's friend Auguste Poulet Malassis.[14] Some of the poems had also previously appeared as "fugitive verse" in various French magazines during the previous decade.[15]

The poems found a small, appreciative audience, but greater public attention was given to their subject matter. The effect on fellow artists was, as Théodore de Banville stated, "immense, prodigious, unexpected, mingled with admiration and with some indefinable anxious fear".[16]Gustave Flaubert, recently attacked in a similar fashion for Madame Bovary (and acquitted), was impressed and wrote to Baudelaire: "You have found a way to rejuvenate Romanticism.... You are as unyielding as marble, and as penetrating as an English mist."[17]

The principal themes of sex and death were considered scandalous. He also touched on lesbianism, sacred and profane love, metamorphosis, melancholy, the corruption of the city, lost innocence, the oppressiveness of living, and wine. Notable in some poems is Baudelaire's use of imagery of the sense of smell and of fragrances, which is used to evoke feelings of nostalgia and past intimacy.[18]

The book, however, quickly became a byword for unwholesomeness among mainstream critics of the day. Some critics called a few of the poems "masterpieces of passion, art and poetry" but other poems were deemed to merit no less than legal action to suppress them.[19] J. Habas writing in Le Figaro, led the charge against Baudelaire, writing: "Everything in it which is not hideous is incomprehensible, everything one understands is putrid." Then Baudelaire responded to the outcry, in a prophetic letter to his mother:

"You know that I have always considered that literature and the arts pursue an aim independent of morality. Beauty of conception and style is enough for me. But this book, whose title (Fleurs du mal) says everything, is clad, as you will see, in a cold and sinister beauty. It was created with rage and patience. Besides, the proof of its positive worth is in all the ill that they speak of it. The book enrages people. Moreover, since I was terrified myself of the horror that I should inspire, I cut out a third from the proofs. They deny me everything, the spirit of invention and even the knowledge of the French language. I don't care a rap about all these imbeciles, and I know that this book, with its virtues and its faults, will make its way in the memory of the lettered public, beside the best poems of V. Hugo, Th. Gautier and even Byron."[20]

Baudelaire, his publisher and the printer were successfully prosecuted for creating an offense against public morals. They were fined, but Baudelaire was not imprisoned.[21] Six of the poems were suppressed, but printed later as Les Épaves (The Wrecks) (Brussels, 1866). Another edition of Les Fleurs du mal, without these poems, but with considerable additions, appeared in 1861. Many notables rallied behind Baudelaire and condemned the sentence. Victor Hugo wrote to him: "Your fleurs du mal shine and dazzle like stars.... I applaud your vigorous spirit with all my might."[22] Baudelaire did not appeal the judgment, but his fine was reduced. Nearly 100 years later, on May 11, 1949, Baudelaire was vindicated, the judgment officially reversed, and the six banned poems reinstated in France.[22]

In the poem "Au lecteur" ("To the Reader") that prefaces Les Fleurs du mal, Baudelaire accuses his readers of hypocrisy and of being as guilty of sins and lies as the poet:

... If rape or arson, poison or the knife
Has wove no pleasing patterns in the stuff
Of this drab canvas we accept as life—
It is because we are not bold enough!
(Roy Campbell's translation)

Final years[edit]

Baudelaire next worked on a translation and adaptation of Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater.[23] Other works in the years that followed included Petits Poèmes en prose (Small Prose poems); a series of art reviews published in the Pays, Exposition universelle (Country, World Fair); studies on Gustave Flaubert (in L'Artiste, October 18, 1857); on Théophile Gautier (Revue contemporaine, September 1858); various articles contributed to Eugene Crepet's Poètes francais; Les Paradis artificiels: opium et haschisch (French poets; Artificial Paradises: opium and hashish) (1860); and Un Dernier Chapitre de l'histoire des oeuvres de Balzac (A Final Chapter of the history of works of Balzac) (1880), originally an article "Comment on paye ses dettes quand on a du génie" ("How one pays one's debts when one has genius"), in which his criticism turns against his friends Honoré de Balzac, Théophile Gautier, and Gérard de Nerval.

By 1859, his illnesses, his long-term use of laudanum, his life of stress and poverty had taken a toll and Baudelaire had aged noticeably. But at last, his mother relented and agreed to let him live with her for a while at Honfleur. Baudelaire was productive and at peace in the seaside town, his poem Le Voyage being one example of his efforts during that time.[24] In 1860, he became an ardent supporter of Richard Wagner.

His financial difficulties increased again, however, particularly after his publisher Poulet Malassis went bankrupt in 1861. In 1864, he left Paris for Belgium, partly in the hope of selling the rights to his works and also to give lectures.[25] His long-standing relationship with Jeanne Duval continued on-and-off, and he helped her to the end of his life. Baudelaire's relationships with actress Marie Daubrun and with courtesan Apollonie Sabatier, though the source of much inspiration, never produced any lasting satisfaction. He smoked opium, and in Brussels he began to drink to excess. Baudelaire suffered a massive stroke in 1866 and paralysis followed. After more than a year of aphasia, he received the last rites of the Catholic Church.[26] The last two years of his life were spent, in a semi-paralyzed state, in "maisons de santé" in Brussels and in Paris, where he died on August 31, 1867. Baudelaire is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris.

Many of Baudelaire's works were published posthumously. After his death, his mother paid off his substantial debts, and at last she found some comfort in Baudelaire's emerging fame. "I see that my son, for all his faults, has his place in literature." She lived another four years.


Who among us has not dreamt, in moments of ambition, of the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without rhythm and rhyme, supple and staccato enough to adapt to the lyrical stirrings of the soul, the undulations of dreams, and sudden leaps of consciousness. This obsessive idea is above all a child of giant cities, of the intersecting of their myriad relations.

— Dedication of Le Spleen de Paris

Baudelaire is one of the major innovators in French literature. His poetry is influenced by the French romantic poets of the earlier 19th century, although its attention to the formal features of verse connects it more closely to the work of the contemporary "Parnassians". As for theme and tone, in his works we see the rejection of the belief in the supremacy of nature and the fundamental goodness of man as typically espoused by the romantics and expressed by them in rhetorical, effusive and public voice in favor of a new urban sensibility, an awareness of individual moral complexity, an interest in vice (linked with decadence) and refined sensual and aesthetic pleasures, and the use of urban subject matter, such as the city, the crowd, individual passers-by, all expressed in highly ordered verse, sometimes through a cynical and ironic voice. Formally, the use of sound to create atmosphere, and of "symbols" (images that take on an expanded function within the poem), betray a move towards considering the poem as a self-referential object, an idea further developed by the Symbolists Verlaine and Mallarmé, who acknowledge Baudelaire as a pioneer in this regard.

Beyond his innovations in versification and the theories of symbolism and "correspondences", an awareness of which is essential to any appreciation of the literary value of his work, aspects of his work that regularly receive much critical discussion include the role of women, the theological direction of his work and his alleged advocacy of "satanism", his experience of drug-induced states of mind, the figure of the dandy, his stance regarding democracy and its implications for the individual, his response to the spiritual uncertainties of the time, his criticisms of the bourgeois, and his advocacy of modern music and painting (e.g., Wagner, Delacroix). He made Paris the subject of modern poetry. He would bring the city's details to life in the eyes and hearts of his readers.[27]


Baudelaire was an active participant in the artistic life of his times. As critic and essayist, he wrote extensively and perceptively about the luminaries and themes of French culture. He was frank with friends and enemies, rarely took the diplomatic approach and sometimes responded violently verbally, which often undermined his cause.[28] His associations were numerous and included: Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Franz Liszt, Champfleury, Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Balzac and the artists and writers that follow.

Edgar Allan Poe[edit]

In 1847, Baudelaire became acquainted with the works of Poe, in which he found tales and poems that had, he claimed, long existed in his own brain but never taken shape. Baudelaire saw in Poe a precursor and tried to be his French contemporary counterpart.[29] From this time until 1865, he was largely occupied with translating Poe's works; his translations were widely praised. Baudelaire was not the first French translator of Poe, but his "scrupulous translations" were considered among the best. These were published as Histoires extraordinaires (Extraordinary stories) (1852), Nouvelles histoires extraordinaires (New extraordinary stories) (1857), Aventures d'Arthur Gordon Pym, Eureka, and Histoires grotesques et sérieuses (Grotesque and serious stories) (1865). Two essays on Poe are to be found in his Oeuvres complètes (Complete works) (vols. v. and vi.).

Eugène Delacroix[edit]

A strong supporter of the Romantic painter Delacroix, Baudelaire called him "a poet in painting". Baudelaire also absorbed much of Delacroix's aesthetic ideas as expressed in his journals. As Baudelaire elaborated in his "Salon of 1846", "As one contemplates his series of pictures, one seems to be attending the celebration of some grievous mystery.... This grave and lofty melancholy shines with a dull light ... plaintive and profound like a melody by Weber."[11] Delacroix, though appreciative, kept his distance from Baudelaire, particularly after the scandal of Les Fleurs du mal. In private correspondence, Delacroix stated that Baudelaire "really gets on my nerves" and he expressed his unhappiness with Baudelaire's persistent comments about "melancholy" and "feverishness".[30]

Richard Wagner[edit]

Baudelaire had no formal musical training, and knew little of composers beyond Beethoven and Weber. Weber was in some ways Wagner's precursor, using the leitmotif and conceiving the idea of the "total art work" ("Gesamtkunstwerk"), both of which gained Baudelaire's admiration. Before even hearing Wagner's music, Baudelaire studied reviews and essays about him, and formulated his impressions. Later, Baudelaire put them into his non-technical analysis of Wagner, which was highly regarded, particularly his essay "Richard Wagner et Tannhäuser à Paris".[31] Baudelaire's reaction to music was passionate and psychological. "Music engulfs (possesses) me like the sea."[31] After attending three Wagner concerts in Paris in 1860, Baudelaire wrote to the composer: "I had a feeling of pride and joy in understanding, in being possessed, in being overwhelmed, a truly sensual pleasure like that of rising in the air."[32] Baudelaire's writings contributed to the elevation of Wagner and to the cult of Wagnerism that swept Europe in the following decades.

Théophile Gautier[edit]

Gautier, writer and poet, earned Baudelaire's respect for his perfection of form and his mastery of language, though Baudelaire thought he lacked deeper emotion and spirituality. Both strove to express the artist's inner vision, which Heinrich Heine had earlier stated: "In artistic matters, I am a supernaturalist. I believe that the artist can not find all his forms in nature, but that the most remarkable are revealed to him in his soul."[33] Gautier's frequent meditations on death and the horror of life are themes which influenced Baudelaire's writings. In gratitude for their friendship and commonality of vision, Baudelaire dedicated Les Fleurs du mal to Gautier.

Édouard Manet[edit]

Manet and Baudelaire became constant companions from around 1855. In the early 1860s, Baudelaire accompanied Manet on daily sketching trips and often met him socially. Manet also lent Baudelaire money and looked after his affairs, particularly when Baudelaire went to Belgium. Baudelaire encouraged Manet to strike out on his own path and not succumb to criticism. "Manet has great talent, a talent which will stand the test of time. But he has a weak character. He seems to me crushed and stunned by shock."[34] In his painting Music in the Tuileries, Manet includes portraits of his friends Théophile Gautier, Jacques Offenbach, and Baudelaire.[35] While it's difficult to differentiate who influenced whom, both Manet and Baudelaire discussed and expressed some common themes through their respective arts. Baudelaire praised the modernity of Manet's subject matter: "almost all our originality comes from the stamp that 'time' imprints upon our feelings."[36] When Manet's famous Olympia (1863), a portrait of a nude prostitute, provoked a scandal for its blatant realism mixed with an imitation of Renaissance motifs, Baudelaire worked privately to support his friend, though he offered no public defense (he was, however, ill at the time). When Baudelaire returned from Belgium after his stroke, Manet and his wife were frequent visitors at the nursing home and she would play passages from Wagner for Baudelaire on the piano.[37]


Nadar (Félix Tournachon) was a noted caricaturist, scientist and important early photographer. Baudelaire admired Nadar, one of his closest friends, and wrote: "Nadar is the most amazing manifestation of vitality."[38] They moved in similar circles and Baudelaire made many social connections through him. Nadar's ex-mistress Jeanne Duval became Baudelaire's mistress around 1842. Baudelaire became interested in photography in the 1850s and, denouncing it as an art form, advocated its return to "its real purpose, which is that of being the servant to the sciences and arts". Photography should not, according to Baudelaire, encroach upon "the domain of the impalpable and the imaginary".[39] Nadar remained a stalwart friend right to Baudelaire's last days and wrote his obituary notice in Le Figaro.


Many of Baudelaire's philosophical proclamations were considered scandalous and intentionally provocative in his time. He wrote on a wide range of subjects, drawing criticism and outrage from many quarters.


"There is an invincible taste for prostitution in the heart of man, from which comes his horror of solitude. He wants to be 'two'. The man of genius wants to be 'one'.... It is this horror of solitude, the need to lose oneself in the external flesh, that man nobly calls 'the need to love'."[40][41]


"Unable to suppress love, the Church wanted at least to disinfect it, and it created marriage."[40]

The artist[edit]

"The more a man cultivates the arts, the less randy he becomes.... Only the brute is good at coupling, and copulation is the lyricism of the masses. To copulate is to enter into another—and the artist never emerges from himself."[40]


"Personally, I think that the unique and supreme delight lies in the certainty of doing 'evil'–and men and women know from birth that all pleasure lies in evil."[40]

"But what can eternity of damnation matter to someone who has felt, if only for a second, the infinity of delight??"


Along with Poe, Baudelaire named the arch-reactionaryJoseph de Maistre as his maître à penser[42] and adopted increasingly aristocratic views. In his journals, he wrote, "There is no form of rational and assured government save an aristocracy. A monarchy or a republic, based upon democracy, are equally absurd and feeble. The immense nausea of advertisements. There are but three beings worthy of respect: the priest, the warrior and the poet. To know, to kill and to create. The rest of mankind may be taxed and drudged, they are born for the stable, that is to say, to practise what they call professions."[43]

The public[edit]

"In this regards, my friend, you're like the public, to whom one should never offer a delicate perfume. It exasperates them. Give them only carefully selected garbage." [44]


"The will to work must dominate, for art is long and time is brief."[44] (quoting Hippocrates)

"Each man bears within himself his own dose of natural opium, incessantly secreted and renewed, and, from birth to death, how many hours can we count filled with pleasure, with prosperous and effective action?" [44]


Baudelaire's influence on the direction of modern French (and English) language literature was considerable. The most significant French writers to come after him were generous with tributes; four years after his death, Arthur Rimbaud praised him in a letter as 'the king of poets, a true God'.[45] In 1895, Stéphane Mallarmé published a sonnet in Baudelaire's memory, 'Le Tombeau de Charles Baudelaire'. Marcel Proust, in an essay published in 1922, stated that along with Alfred de Vigny, Baudelaire was 'the greatest poet of the nineteenth century'.[46]

In the English-speaking world, Edmund Wilson credited Baudelaire as providing an initial impetus for the Symbolist movement, by virtue of his translations of Poe.[47] In 1930, T. S. Eliot, while asserting that Baudelaire had not yet received a "just appreciation" even in France, claimed that the poet had "great genius" and asserted that his "technical mastery which can hardly be overpraised ... has made his verse an inexhaustible study for later poets, not only in his own language".[48] Eliot also alluded to Baudelaire's poetry directly in his own poetry. For example, he quoted the last line of Baudelaire's 'Au Lecteur' in the last line of Section I of 'The Waste Land.'[citation needed]

At the same time that Eliot was affirming Baudelaire's importance from a broadly conservative and explicitly Christian viewpoint,[49]left-wing critics such as Wilson and Walter Benjamin were able to do so from a dramatically different perspective. Benjamin translated Baudelaire's Tableaux Parisiens into German and published a major essay on translation[50] as the foreword.

In the late 1930s, Benjamin used Baudelaire as a starting point and focus for his monumental attempt at a materialist assessment of 19th-century culture, Das Passagenwerk.[51] For Benjamin, Baudelaire's importance lay in his anatomies of the crowd, of the city and of modernity.[52] He says that, in Les Fleurs du mal, "the specific devaluation of the world of things, as manifested in the commodity, is the foundation of Baudelaire's allegorical intention."[53]François Porche published a poetry collection called Charles Baudelaire: Poetry Collection in memory of Baudelaire.[citation needed]

The song "How Beautiful You Are" by The Cure from their 1987 album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me was inspired by and based on Baudelaire's poem "The Eyes of the Poor".[54]

The 1998 Spanglish classic novel Yo-Yo Boing! by Giannina Braschi features a debate between artists and writers on the greatness of Baudelaire versus Arthur Rimbaud and Antonin Artaud.[55]

The 2011 Latin American postcolonial novel "United States of Banana" by Giannina Braschi features cameo appearances by Baudelaire, along with fellow poets Antonin Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud, César Vallejo and Rubén Darío.[56]

The Baudelaires, protagonists of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, were named after him.[57]

Vanderbilt University has "assembled one of the world's most comprehensive research collections on ... Baudelaire".[58]

The Japanese comic or mangaAku no Hana, by Shūzō Oshimi, is inspired by Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal. The anime was aired in 2013 and drew attention due to its heavy use of rotoscope animation. The protagonist in both manga and the anime, Takao Kasuga, is a bookworm whose favorite book is Les fleurs du mal, translated in Japanese as Aku no Hana.[citation needed]

Les Fleurs du mal has a number of scholarly references.[59]


  • Salon de 1845, 1845
  • Salon de 1846, 1846
  • La Fanfarlo, 1847
  • Les Fleurs du mal, 1857
  • Les paradis artificiels, 1860
  • Réflexions sur Quelques-uns de mes Contemporains, 1861
  • Le Peintre de la Vie Moderne, 1863
  • Curiosités Esthétiques, 1868
  • L'art romantique, 1868
  • Le Spleen de Paris, 1869
  • Oeuvres Posthumes et Correspondance Générale, 1887–1907
  • Fusées, 1897
  • Mon Coeur Mis à Nu, 1897
  • Oeuvres Complètes, 1922–53 (19 vols.)
  • Mirror of Art, 1955
  • The Essence of Laughter, 1956
  • Curiosités Esthétiques, 1962
  • The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, 1964
  • Baudelaire as a Literary Critic, 1964
  • Arts in Paris 1845–1862, 1965
  • Selected Writings on Art and Artist, 1972
  • Selected Letters of Charles Baudelaire, 1986
  • Twenty Prose Poems, 1988
  • Critique d'art; Critique musicale, 1992

Musical adaptations[edit]

  • French composer Claude Debussy set five of Baudelaire's poems to music in 1890: Cinq poèmes de Charles Baudelaire (Le Balcon, Harmonie du soir, Le Jet d'eau, Recueillement and La Mort des amants).
  • French composer Henri Duparc set two of Beaudelaire's poems to music: "L'Invitation au voyage" in 1870, and "La vie antérieure" in 1884.
  • English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage composed settings of two of Baudelaire's poems, "Harmonie du soir" and "L'Invitation au voyage" for soprano and seven instruments.[60]
  • French singer-songwriter Léo Ferré devoted himself to set Baudelaire's poetry into music in three albums: Les Fleurs du mal in 1957 (12 poems), Léo Ferré chante Baudelaire in 1967 (24 poems, including one from Le Spleen de Paris), and the posthumous Les Fleurs du mal (suite et fin) (21 poems), recorded in 1977 but released in 2008.
  • Soviet/Russian composer David Tukhmanov has set Baudelaire's poem to music (cult album On a Wave of My Memory, 1975).[61]
  • American avant-garde composer, vocalist and performer Diamanda Galás made an interpretation in original French of Les Litanies de Satan from Les Fleurs du mal, in her debut album titled The Litanies of Satan, which consists of tape and electronics effects with layers of her voice.
  • French singer David TMX recorded the poems "Lesbos" and "Une Charogne" from The Flowers of Evil.
  • French metal/shoegaze groups Alcest and Amesoeurs used his poetry for the lyrics of the tracks "Élévation" (on Le Secret) and "Recueillement" (on Amesoeurs), respectively. Celtic Frost used his poem Tristesses de la lune as a lyrics for song on album Into the Pandemonium.
  • Israeli singer Maor Cohen's 2005 album, the Hebrew name of which translates to French as "Les Fleurs du Mal", is a compilation of songs from Baudelaire's book of the same name. The texts were translated to Hebrew by Israeli poet Dori Manor, while the music was composed by Cohen himself.
  • Italian singer Franco Battiato set Invitation au voyage to music as Invito Al Viaggio on his 1999 album Fleurs (Esempi Affini Di Scritture E Simili).
  • American composer Gérard Pape set Tristesses de la lune/Sorrows of the Moon from Fleurs du Mal for voice and electronic tape.
  • French band Marc Seberg wrote an adaptation of Recueillement for their 1985 album Le Chant Des Terres.
  • Russian heavy metal band Black Obelisk used Russian translations of several Baudelaire poems as lyrics for their songs.
  • French singer Mylène Farmer performed "L'Horloge" to music by Laurent Boutonnat on the album" Ainsi soi je" and the opening number of her 1989 concert tour.
  • German aggrotech band C-Drone-Defect used the translation of "Le Rebelle" by Roy Campbell as lyrics for the song "Rebellis" on their 2009 album Dystopia.
  • English rock band The Cure used the translation of "Les yeux des pauvres" as lyrics for the song "How Beautiful You Are".
  • French singer-songwriter and musician Serge Gainsbourg has set Baudelaire's poem "Dancing Snake" (Le serpent qui danse) to music in his 1964 song "Baudelaire".
  • Greek black metal band Rotting Christ adapted Baudelaire's poem "Les Litanies De Satan" from "Fleurs du Mal" for a song of the same name in their 2016 album Rituals.
  • Belgian female-fronted band Exsangue released the debut video for the single "A une Malabaraise" which lyrics is based on Baudelaire’s same-named sonet in 2016.[62]
  • Belgian electronic music band Modern Cubism has released two albums where poems of Baudelaire are used as lyrics, Les Plaintes d’un Icare in 2008, and live album Live Complaints in 2010.[63]

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Baudelaire". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. ^"By modernity I mean the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent which make up one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immutable." Charles Baudelaire, "The Painter of Modern Life" in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, edited and translated by Jonathan Mayne. London: Phaidon Press, 13.
  3. ^Charles Baudelaire, Richard Howard. Les Fleurs Du Mal. David R. Godine Publisher, 1983, p.xxv. ISBN 0-87923-462-8, ISBN 978-0-87923-462-1.
  4. ^Richardson 1994, p. 16
  5. ^Richardson 1994, p. 35
  6. ^Richardson 1994, p. 70
  7. ^Richardson 1994, pp. 67–68
  8. ^Richardson 1994, p. 71
  9. ^Richardson 1994, p. 75
  10. ^Richardson 1994, p. 219.
  11. ^ abRichardson 1994, p. 110.
  12. ^Clark, Carol (1995). "Notes on the Text". Selected Poems. By Charles Baudelaire. London: Penguin Books Ltd. p. xxiii. ISBN 978-0-14-044624-1. 
  13. ^Baudelaire, Charles. Les Fleurs du mal. Paris: Revue des Deux Mondes (XXVe année, seconde série de la nouvelle période, tome dixième), 1855. pp. 1079–1093
  14. ^Huneker, James. Introductory preface to: The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire. New York: Brentano's, 1919. p. xvii
  15. ^Richardson 1994, p. 236.
  16. ^Richardson 1994, p. 241.
  17. ^Richardson 1994, p. 231.
  18. ^Richardson 1994, pp. 232–237
  19. ^Richardson 1994, p. 238.
  20. ^Richardson 1994, p. 248
  21. ^ abRichardson 1994, p. 250.
  22. ^Richardson 1994, p. 311.
  23. ^Richardson 1994, p. 281.
  24. ^Richardson 1994, p. 400
  25. ^
  26. ^Haine, Scott. The History of France (1st ed.). Greenwood Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-313-30328-2. 
  27. ^Richardson 1994, p. 268.
  28. ^Richardson 1994, p. 140.
  29. ^Hyslop, Lois Boe (1980). Baudelaire, Man of His Time. Yale University Press. p. 14. ISBN 0-300-02513-0. 
  30. ^ abHyslop (1980), p. 68.
  31. ^Hyslop (1980), p. 69
  32. ^Hyslop (1980), p. 131.
  33. ^Hyslop (1980), p. 55.
  34. ^"Music in the Tuileries Gardens". The National Gallery. Retrieved July 13, 2008. 
  35. ^Hyslop (1980), p. 53.
  36. ^Hyslop (1980), p. 51.
  37. ^Hyslop (1980), p. 65.
  38. ^Hyslop (1980), p. 63.
  39. ^ abcdRichardson 1994, p. 50
  40. ^Baudelaire, Charles (1919). His Prose and Poetry. New York: Boni and Liveright, inc. p. 239. 
  41. ^"The Cambridge Companion to Baudelaire". 
  42. ^"Intimate journals :: :: University of Virginia Library". 
  43. ^ abcBaudelaire, Charles. Translated by William H. Crosby, The Flowers of Evil & Paris Spleen, BOA Editions, Ltd., 1991.
  44. ^Rimbaud, Arthur: Oeuvres complètes, p. 253, NRF/Gallimard, 1972.
  45. ^Concerning Baudelaire in Proust, Marcel: Against Sainte-Beuve and Other Essays, p. 286, trans. John Sturrock, Penguin, 1994.
  46. ^Wilson, Edmund: Axel's Castle, p. 20, Fontana, 1962 (originally published 1931).
  47. ^'Baudelaire', in Eliot, T. S.: Selected Essays, pp. 422 and 425, Faber & Faber, 1961.
  48. ^cf. Eliot, 'Religion in Literature', in Eliot, op. cit., p. 388.
  49. ^'The Task of the Translator', in Benjamin, Walter: Selected Writings Vol. 1: 1913–1926, pp. 253–263, Belknap/Harvard, 1996.
  50. ^Benjamin, Walter: The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, Belknap/Harvard, 1999.
  51. ^Benjamin, Walter (1996), "The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire", in Benjamin, Walter, Selected writings: Vol. 4 1938–1940, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press, pp. 3–92, ISBN 9780674010765. 
  52. ^Benjamin, Walter (1996), "The study begins with some reflections on the influence of Les Fleurs du mal", in Benjamin, Walter, Selected writings: Vol. 4 1938–1940, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press, pp. 94–98, ISBN 9780674010765. 
    See also: Marder, Elissa (May 2016). "Inhuman beauty: Baudelaire's bad sex". differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies
Portrait of Baudelaire, painted in 1844 by Emile Deroy (1820–1846)
Charles Baudelaire by Nadar, 1855
Cenotaph of Charles Baudelaire, Montparnasse Cemetery
Baudelaire, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Œuvres complètes (Complete Works), volume I.

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