Charles Baudelaire Additional Biography


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

0111201517-Baudelaire.jpg Charles Baudelaire (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

On June 25, 1857, Baudelaire’s volume of poetry Les Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil, 1909) went on sale. Some of its poems had been published years earlier in periodicals, but the full impact of what Baudelaire was attempting to do with verse was not felt until the collection was published as a whole. With this book Baudelaire boldly professed that it was possible for something beautiful to be a product of evil, and that so-called perverse topics, such as lesbianism, could be molded into poetic eloquence. Although Baudelaire understood that some conservative literary critics—possibly even the French government—would find parts of Flowers of Evil offensive, he was confident that ultimately vindication would be his.

Within a few weeks of the book’s going on sale, Baudelaire and his publisher, the partners Auguste Poulet-Malassis and Eugène de Broise, were indicted for offending religious morality, and copies of Flowers of Evil were confiscated by the French government. In January, 1857, similar charges had been brought against Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary. After Flaubert was found innocent, the government risked another embarrassment by prosecuting Baudelaire. On August 20, 1857, Baudelaire appeared before the sixth court of the Tribunal de la Seine. His attorney, Gustave Chaix d’Est-Ange, argued that Baudelaire intended through the poems of Flowers of Evil to illustrate his contempt of evil. The judges dropped the charge of offending religious morality but found Baudelaire guilty of the lesser charge of offending public morality and fined him three hundred francs. The publishing partners were fined 100 francs each. The judges also decided to suppress six poems from the collection.

Although Baudelaire did not receive a prison term, he was deeply saddened by the verdict; he died ten years later. It would not be until 1949 that the judgment against him was officially reversed by the French government and the six suppressed poems were legally included in a French edition of Flowers of Evil.


(Poets and Poetry, Complete Critical Edition)

Charles-Pierre Baudelaire was born in Paris on April 9, 1821. His father, Joseph-François, was of modest origin but well educated, for he attended seminary and became a priest before the Revolution. Well connected, he became preceptor to the children of the Duke of Choiseul-Praslin and, as a painter, was personally acquainted with Enlightenment figures such as Condorcet and Cabanis. After the Revolution, having left the priesthood, Joseph-François Baudelaire worked on the administrative staff of the French senate. Caroline Archenbaut-Defayis, Baudelaire’s mother, was thirty-four years younger than his father. Widowed, she remarried when her son was six years old. Baudelaire’s stepfather, Jacques Aupick, was a career military officer who had him placed in a series of boarding schools, first in Lyons, when the child was nine, and then in Paris, at fifteen. The choice of schools permitted Baudelaire to be near his mother as the Aupick household moved in response to the officer’s promotions.

As an adolescent, Baudelaire was friendly, religious, and studious. He won prizes in Latin verse composition (one of the poems in Flowers of Evil is in Latin). He seems to have had few serious disputes with his stepfather until after obtaining the baccalauréat in 1839. After that, however, the now successful general became progressively the object of Baudelaire’s dislike and even hatred. Disapproving of the young man’s friends and conduct, the general sent him on a long boat trip toward India, but Baudelaire, once embarked, refused to go farther than...

(The entire section is 645 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111201517-Baudelaire.jpg Charles Baudelaire Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Charles-Pierre Baudelaire (bohd-LEHR) was born on April 9, 1821, in Paris, France. His father, François Baudelaire, was thirty-four years older than his mother, Caroline Dufayis. Born in 1759, François was ordained a priest prior to the French Revolution but was compelled to renounce his clerical order in 1793, the year of the most intense persecution of the clergy. François was already sixty years old at the time of his marriage to Caroline and he died in 1827 when their only child, Charles, was not yet six years old. The poet’s father left him a heritage of Catholic faith that may have influenced both the moral preoccupations and the choice of imagery in Charles’s later work and a financial inheritance that would come into...

(The entire section is 1001 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Charles Baudelaire’s personal evolution paralleled the evolution of his language. He came to recognize within his own life the signs of his spiritual fall, and the reader learns to attach special nuances to his often-repeated images. These evocative emblems finally become complex literary symbols. Baudelaire’s major achievement lay in part in the creation of this symbol vocabulary through which each object may convey much more than simply its own identity.

The corollary to Baudelaire’s symbol system was to become as important as the symbol itself. He persuaded his readers to analyze meaning in a new way, a process that would become fundamental to modern poetry.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

In his youth, Charles Pierre Baudelaire (bohd-uh-lehr) provided the classic example of rebellion against domestic restraint, and this rebellion has been used to explain much of his adult personality. His father, an artist for whose work Baudelaire always expressed great admiration, died very early, and his mother married an army officer named Aupick, with whom the young boy was at loggerheads all through his childhood. Baudelaire was educated at the Collège Louis-le-Grand in Paris, but by 1841 the domestic situation had become so strained that his stepfather sent him on a ten-month voyage. Upon his return to France he inherited a small property. He was so extravagant, however, that his family had to have his money put in trust....

(The entire section is 629 words.)


(Poetry for Students)

Charles Pierre Baudelaire was born on April 9, 1821, in Paris, France. His father, Joseph-François Baudelaire, had been ordained as a...

(The entire section is 381 words.)