The Flowers of Evil
By: Charles Baudelaire
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
The Flowers of Evil, which T.S. Eliot called the greatest example of modern poetry in any language, shocked the literary world of nineteenth century France with its outspoken portrayal of lesbian love, its linking of sexuality and death, its unremitting irony, and its unflinching celebration of the seamy side of urban life. Including the French texts and comprehensive explanatory notes to the poems, this extraordinary body of love poems restores the six poems originally banned in 1857, revealing the richness and variety of the collection.
Firstly, if you look him up on le Google, he’s got the creepiest photo O_o Anyway, I was first introduced to Charles Baudelaire’s poetry when I read the small collection French Love Poetry (review) earlier this year. I had not read much French poetry to date so I decided to check out this book.
While I was reading this book I was pondering how this book was considered to be modern poetry and why it was considered as revolutionary as it was. Subject-wise his poems about urban life, the prostitutes that fill the French streets, the physicality of his poetry. It’s hard to describe as it’s something to read for yourself and discover but it does feel different compared to other 19th century poetry that I’ve read (granted, they were English poets too, but that’s neither here nor there). His poems about love and about death were especially interesting, but his poems about the Poet and their role was also poems that caught my attention.
This is a pretty tiny review but it bears getting its own post as this is a fairly famous French poet by my understanding. This edition that I read was pretty cool too because the original French was on one side and the English translation on the other, if you’re like me and like to read what it’s like in its original language (or a completionist like me). I can’t say a particular poem stood out for me but I did post a line that I really enjoyed on Litsy. Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for new poetry to read.