cover of book

Charles Baudelaire
by Rosemary Lloyd
Reaktion Books, 2008
Paper: 978-1-86189-363-5 | eISBN: 978-1-86189-412-0

In nineteenth-century Paris, Charles Baudelaire provoked the excoriations of critics and was legally banned for corrupting public morality, yet he was a key influence on many later thinkers and writers, including Marcel Proust, Walter Benjamin, and T. S. Eliot. Baudelaire’s life was as controversial and vivid as his works, as Rosemary Lloyd reveals in Charles Baudelaire, a succinct yet learned recounting.

            Lloyd argues that Baudelaire’s writings and life were intimately intertwined—and both were powerfully informed by contemporaneous political events, from his participation in the 1848 Revolution to the public morality codes that banned his controversial writings, such as Les fleurs du mal. The book traces the influence of these events and other political moments in his poems and essays and analyzes his works in this new light. Lloyd also examines the links between Baudelaire’s works and cultural movements of the time, from the rise and fall of Romanticism to symbolism, and explores his groundbreaking translations of Edgar Allan Poe’s writings into French.

Baudelaire’s tumultuous personal life figures large here, too, as Lloyd draws out fascinating aspects of his personality and daily life through analysis of archival writings of his friends and acquaintances. The book also documents his battles with syphilis and drug addiction, which ultimately resulted in his death. An engrossing and wholly readable biography, Charles Baudelaire will be essential for scholars and Baudelaire admirers alike.
Rosemary Lloyd is affiliate professor at the University of Adelaide and the Rudy Professor Emerita at Indiana University. She is the author of many books, including Mallarmé: The Poet and His Circle, Baudelaire’s World, and Shimmering in a Transformed Light: Writing the Still Life.

". . . draws on the standard biographies of Baudelaire, but her emphasis on the poet's diaries, letters and reviews of exhibitions, as well as his unsuccessful projects for novels and plays, shakes up commonplace legends about his life and work . . . [a] well-balanced portrait . . . a fine introduction."– Times Literary Supplement

— Times Literary Supplement

"The particular achievement of the book lies in the skill with which Baudelaire's life and his creative and critical writing are brought together . . . an admirable introduction to the complexity of Baudelaire's mind and personality, to the development of his views on the nature and function of creative writing and to the wonders of his imagination."– Australian Book Review

— Australian Book Review

'"This compact but masterful critical biography offers an excellent study and teaching tool with a wealth of original insights. It has much to offer anyone interested in the birth of Modernism in art or literature and more generally anyone with an interest in French cultural history in the nineteenth century."– H-France Review

— H-France Review

"A highly regarded critic and author of books on Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and other topics, Rosemary Lloyd here gives us a solid and very interesting study of Charles Baudelaire within the context of his personal life and journey, his fascination with poetry, the visual arts, art criticism, and translation, and his place in the political, social, and cultural arenas of nineteenth-century France and especially Paris. This is a critical study geared for both an academic and a general public, and with this dual audience in mind, Lloyd manages to succeed–and succeed extremely well. This reviewer figured that she would skim the book for review but found herself reading every word, studying the numerous photographs and illustrations that so enhance the text, and feeling depressed when both Baudelaire's life and this book came to an end . . . a delightfully written and interesting study." – The Oscholars

— The Oscholars

    1 Childhood and Youth
    2 Revolt
    3 Second Empire Paris
    4 The Results of the Trial
    5 The Final Years
    Further Reading
    Photo Acknowledgements

See other books on: 1821-1867 | Baudelaire, Charles | Charles Baudelaire | Literary | Lloyd, Rosemary
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