Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 9 - Charles Baudelaire

Poet and critic Charles Baudelaire was born on April 9, 1821, in Paris. As a teen he was kicked out of a military school and spent two rebellious years in the Quartier Latin, writing, amassing debt and contracting syphilis, from which he would die at age 46. In 1854-55, he published acclaimed translations of Edgar Allan Poe, whom he called a "twin soul." In 1857, he published the first edition of his symbolist prose poems, Les Fleurs du Mal, which dealt with urban decadence and eroticism. Six poems describing lesbian love and vampires were banned in France as obscene (the ban was lifted in 1949). He broke with Romanticism by juxtaposing urban beauty with decay, believing art must create beauty even from the depraved and the non-poetic. Author Victor Hugo said Baudelaire had created "un nouveau frisson" (a new thrill) in literature. Baudelaire coined the term “modernité,” defining it as “the transient, the fleeting, the contingent,” which art has a responsibility to represent.

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