Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) spent most of his life in Paris, though one can see in some of his poetry the influence of an early voyage he made to the East Indies. His mother and stepfather had encouraged this trip in the hope that it would make Baudelaire forget about following a literary career. When Baudelaire returned to France he extravagantly spent the inheritance he received at the age of twenty-one from his own father's estate. He was then drawn into the bohemian artistic circles of the times, where, in particular, he formed an unhappy liaison with an unscrupulous woman, Jeanne Duval. Baudelaire is a superlative craftsman but his poetry reveals the tormented soul torn between sordid ugliness and beauty, despondency and hope, "satanism" and religion. Baudelaire was obsessed by this "spleen et idéal," as he called it, and his Fleurs du mal, first published in 1857, so shocked the public that the poet was brought to trial and heavily fined. The influence of Baudelaire has been tremendous, and he is regarded by many as the greatest poet in any language in the nineteenth century.
- Baudelaire, Charles. Oeuvres complètes Paris: Éditions de la Nouvelle revue française, 1918-.
- "Charles Baudelaire." Representative French Poetry. Ed. Victor E. Graham. 2nd edn. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965. 80-85.