The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 31, 2013

August 31, 1867

Charles Baudelaire, (April 9, 1821 to  August 31, 1867) was, with his close friend  Theophile Gautier, not only  a major figure, in French 19th century literature, but an ailurophile. This former honor was not awarded by the bourgeoisie of the time, who dragged Baudelaire into court on charges of obscenity and blasphemy, on the publication of the poetry volume: Les Fleurs du Mal (1857.) Lines like "You will bring back to me your tormented breasts," and other lines like "Praise be to God who giveth pain," were under review.  His friends tried to help. The only defense Gautier could think of was that he explain his purpose had been to " to translate ...odd hallucinations of a fixed idea turning to madness."  Another pointed out that an honest depiction of evil worked to bring the reader closer to the good. Referring to "'Le Cygne' from Les Fleurs du mal, Victor Hugo announced that Baudelaire had created "un nouveau frisson" (a new shudder, a new thrill) in literature."

Those who were not his friends were vicious. A critic in Le Figaro wrote "Monsieur Baudelaire finds eternity in the eyes of his cat; but that is nothing beside what he finds in the hair of his mistress."

We now view Les Fleurs du Mal as a landmark in the definition of a modern sensibility. Our quotes were taken from a biography of Baudelaire,  Flower of evil, a life of Charles Baudelaire, by 
Edwin Morgan,  (1943). And my readers may access that biography in a full text version of this book at, but not at Google Books.

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