Baudelaire: Les Fleurs du mal

Les Fleurs du mal, once the most infamous book of poems in French literature, became in the twentieth century the most famous, and the most admired: its challenge to convention when it was first published in 1857 led to its judicial condemnation, but it owes its ‘landmark’ status to the sheer aesthetic quality of its verses. In this volume, Professor Leakey provides a newly comprehensive guide to the understanding and appreciation of Les Fleurs du mal, offering fresh insights into its composition, themes and style (sound as well as sense), and setting it in its historical context. A whole chapter is devoted to Baudelaire’s crowning poetic achievement, Le Cygne, and the book includes a detailed index to individual poems as well as a guide to further reading.

• This is the single most famous collection of poems in French; there was a court case about its immorality when it was published in 1857; conviction lifted in 1949 • The poems are difficult for beginning students to appreciate and interpret; Leakey has a lifetime’s experience of teaching this material and provides a clear introduction to it • As usual with this series, a chronological table provides a good overview of the poet’s life in its historical and literary context, and there is a guide to further reading


Chronology; 1. Composition; 2. Themes; 3. Sound and verse; 4. Swan-song: Le Cygne; 5. Conclusion; Guide to further reading; Brief index of poems by Baudelaire.

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