The Writing of Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867), and Some of My Favourite Quotes

Charles Baudelaire Quote

Short Biography:

Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867) was a French poet, essayist and art critic whose work was largely concerned with modernity, urbanisation, human vices and the complexities of morality. He was strongly influenced by the earlier movement of Romanticism, as well as by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, which he translated into French. Baudelaire had much in common with Poe, including a preoccupation with the macabre and supernatural imagery.

In the 1919 English translation of Baudelaire’s works by James Huneker, Baudelaire’s influences and similarities with/differences from Poe are discussed in the introduction:

“George Saintsbury thus sums up the differences between Poe and Baudelaire: “Both authors—Poe and De Quincey—fell short of Baudelaire himself as regards depth and fulness of passion, but both have a superficial likeness to him in eccentricity of temperament and affection for a certain peculiar mixture of grotesque and horror.” Poe is without passion, except a passion for the macabre; what Huysmans calls “The October of the sensations”; whereas, there is a gulf of despair and terror and humanity in Baudelaire, which shakes your nerves, yet stimulates the imagination. However, profounder as a poet, he was no match for Poe in what might be termed intellectual prestidigitation. The mathematical Poe, the Poe of the ingenious detective tales, tales extraordinary, the Poe of the swift flights into the cosmic blue, the Poe the prophet and mystic—in these the American was more versatile than his French translator… He was the last of the Romanticists; Sainte-Beuve called him the Kamchatka of Romanticism; its remotest hyperborean peak. Romanticism is dead to-day, as dead as Naturalism; but Baudelaire is alive, and read.”

Huneker’s translations are freely available online from the Gutenberg Project: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/36287/36287-h/36287-h.htm

 

Charles Baudelaire Quote

 

Famous Works

Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), 1857, Poetry – view online at: http://fleursdumal.org/1861-table-of-contents (French and English)

La Fanfarlo, 1847, Novella

Le Spleen de Paris (Paris Spleen or “Little Poems in Prose”), 1860, Prose Poetry – view English translation:
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/36287/36287-h/36287-h.htm 


Quotes

“Common sense tells us that the things of the earth exist only a little, and that true reality is only in dreams.”
– Charles Baudelaire

“I consider it useless and tedious to represent what exists, because nothing that exists satisfies me. Nature is ugly, and I prefer the monsters of my fancy to what is positively trivial.”
– Charles Baudelaire

“The insatiable thirst for everything which lies beyond, and which life reveals, is the most living proof of our immortality.”
– Charles Baudelaire

“Always be a poet, even in prose.”
– Charles Baudelaire

 

Charles baudelaire quote
“Let us beware of common folk, of common sense, of sentiment, of inspiration, and of the obvious.”
– Charles Baudelaire

“Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recaptured at will.” –  Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays

“The beautiful is always bizarre.”
– Charles Baudelaire

“Strangeness is a necessary ingredient in beauty.”
― Charles Baudelaire

“There are as many kinds of beauty as there are habitual ways of seeking happiness.”
– Charles Baudelaire

“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.” ― Charles Baudelaire

“What can an eternity of damnation matter to someone who has felt, if only for a second, the infinity of delight?” ― Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen

“Even when she walks one would believe that she dances.”  ― Charles Baudelaire

“We are weighed down, every moment, by the conception and the sensation of Time. And there are but two means of escaping and forgetting this nightmare: pleasure and work. Pleasure consumes us. Work strengthens us. Let us choose. ”
― Charles Baudelaire

“The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.”
– Charles Baudelaire

“It is time to get drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk; get drunk without stopping! On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish.”
– Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire Quote
“There are moments of existence when time and space are more profound, and the awareness of existence is immensely heightened.” – Charles Baudelaire

 

I hope you enjoyed these quotes from Charles Baudelaire, and are inspired to investigate his writing further. Most of the English translations are freely available at the links above.

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