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200 × 130 × 12 mm
192 pages
36 illustrations
01 Feb 2008
Critical Lives
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Charles Baudelaire Rosemary Lloyd

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.

‘. . . draws on the standard biographies of Baudelaire, but her emphasis on the poets 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

‘The particular achievement of the book lies in the skill with which Baudelaires life and his creative and critical writing are brought together . . . an admirable introduction to the complexity of Baudelaires 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

‘This is a succinct and readable survey of Baudelaires life and work which skilfully blends key biographical events with a wide range of examples from across the poets literary, critical and epistolary writings . . . Rosemary Lloyds most impressive achievement is finding a salutary new way to present material which risks over-familiarity . . . this is an excellent critical biography that combines scholarly analysis with an approachable, sympathetic style and offers a usefully rounded overview of one of the nineteenth centurys most crucial figures.’ — Modern Language Studies

‘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

‘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 Baudelaires life and this book came to an end . . . a delightfully written and interesting study.’ — The Oscholars

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Rosemary Lloyd is Affiliate Professor at the University of Adelaide and Rudy Professor emerita, Indiana University. She is the author of many books including Mallarmé: The Poet and his Circle (1999), Baudelaires World (2002), and Shimmering in a Transformed Light: Writing the Still Life (2005).

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