Encyclopedia > Les fleurs du mal

  Article Content

Les Fleurs du Mal

Redirected from Les fleurs du mal

Les Fleurs du Mal (literal trans. "The Flowers of Evil") is a volume of French poetry by Charles Baudelaire, important in the symbolist and modernist movements. The subject matter of these poems deals with themes relating to decadence and eroticism.

The initial publication of the book was arranged in five thematically segregated sections:

  • Spleen et Idéal
  • Le Vin
  • Fleurs du Mal
  • Révolte
  • La Mort

The preface to the volume, blasphemously defining Satan as "thrice-great", and calling boredom the worst of miseries, neatly sets the general tone of what is to follow:

Si le viol, le poison, le poignard, l'incendie,
N'ont pas encore brode de leurs plaisants dessins
Le canevas banal de nos piteux destins,
C'est que notre ame, helas! N'es pas assez hardie.

If rape and poison, dagger and burning,
Have still not embroidered their pleasant designs
On the banal canvas of our pitiable destinies,
It's because our souls, alas, are not bold enough!

The preface concludes with the following malediction:

C'est l'Ennui!—l'oeil chargé d'un pleur involontaire,
Il rêve d'échafauds en fumant son houka.
Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,
—Hypocrite lecteur,—mon semblable,—mon frère!

It's Boredom!- his eye brimming with spontaneous tear
He dreams of the gallows in the haze of his hookah.
You know him, reader, this delicate monster,
Hypocritical reader, my likeness, my brother!

The author and the publisher were prosecuted under the regime of the Second Empire as an outrage aux bonnes mœurs (trans. "an insult to public decency"). As a consequence of this prosecution, Baudelaire was fined 300 francs. Six poems from the work were suppressed and the ban on their publiction was not lifted in France until 1949. On the other hand, upon reading Les Fleurs du Mal, Victor Hugo announced that Baudelaire had created "un nouveau frisson" (a new shudder, a new thrill) in literature.

In the wake of the prosecution a second edition was issued in 1861 which added 32 new poems, removed the 6 suppressed poems and added a new section entitled Tableaux Parisiens.

A posthumous third edition with a preface by Théophile Gautier and including some previously unpublished poems was issued in 1868.

Les Fleurs du Mal is also the title of a painting by the artist Georges Roualt[?].

External link:

Project Gutenberg etext: Les Fleurs du Mal (http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/aut/baudelaire_charles)

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
French resistance

... also begun to sends it own agents to France in cooperation with SOE. In June 1943 SOE sent Edward Yeo-Thomas for the first time to liaise between Gaullist BCRA and ...

This page was created in 38.4 ms