Born in Paris, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) was a hugely influential poet, art critic and translator whose reputation has only increased in the twentieth century. Throughout his life Baudelaire was fascinated by both language, which he manipulated with consummate and innovative skill, and by the visual, commenting forcefully on the art of his time. This book brings together Baudelaire's life and his creative and critical writing, showing how closely interlinked they were, and how much his experience of daily life and the world around him was distilled and transformed in his work. Living through the high point and the decline of Romanticism, as well as the beginnings of realism and symbolism, Baudelaire was a witness to turbulent political events, such as the February 1848 revolution, that transformed the city of Paris both socially and physically. These events offer a crucial background to Baudelaire's life and work, as do the many friends and acquaintances who have left written traces of their relationship with him.
The book also relates Baudelaire's personal battles with syphilis, and the morality of the time, and his role as a translator - his translations of Edgar Allan Poe were highly popular and introduced Poe's work to a French audience. Aimed at both the general reader and at students of literature, this book presents all the complexity of Baudelaire's personality and his work in concise and accessible fashion.