Monday, 25 February 2013

The Flowers of Evil

 Poetry collection by Charles Baudelaire

I enjoy my poetry rather dark and introspective, so this was a perfect collection for me. I tend to read my poetry in snatches- about five at a time, and then laying the book aside, so that I can really appreciate the words and not rush through them. Due to this, and to the fact that I lost the book in the massive stacks on my floor, it took me a long time to finish it. But it was well worth it, and every word was treasured.

This was a transgressive collection that shocked society at the time, and it is easy to see why, with sections about worshipping the devil, alcohol, prostitutes, lesbians, and a rather delightfully dark poem about seeing a corpse and imagining how his lover will one day rot like that. Baudelaire's bravery in exploring all these controversial topics, especially in the era in which he lived makes me admire him in the extreme. It also seems from the philosophical elements in these poems, that they are not merely intended to shock, but are a deep examination of the themes within. This poetry was moving and made one really think about life. In some ways, it might be seen to serve as a sort of memento mori, reminding us of the shortness of life and the transience of pleasure, as other poems such as Emily Dickinson's nature poems remind us of the peace to be found within that nature.

This book is a must for any poetry collection. For those that need the translation (as I did) but want to see the original French words side by side with the English translation, I cannot recommend this version strongly enough!

0192835459 (ISBN13: 9780192835451)

My review on Goodreads:

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I read this in high school and then I had to read it in french at university - we had a class focused on this book.
    The funniest thing about Baudelaire is how people think of him as of the wild genius who wrote in the flood of his unconsciousness, while he was an artisan of poetry and worked really hard on his poems, correcting them again and again and again until they reached perfection.
    And yes, it's amazing how he went through such topics at times like those; he began a new era in literature.