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First edition

Charles BAUDELAIRE Les Fleurs du mal


Les Fleurs du mal

Poulet-Malassis & de Broise, Paris 1857, 12,8x19,3cm, broché sous coffret.

| Exceedingly rare first edition in its original soft cover, as issued |

Les Fleurs du Mal [Flowers of Evil], Poulet-Malassis & De Broise, Paris 1857, 12,8x19,3cm, original wrappers under slipcase. 

First edition printed on vélin d'Angoulême. Complete copy with the six banned poems and every misprint on page 29, 31, 43, 45, 108, 110 and 217 specific to first edition copies, except for the error to “s'enhardissant” on page 12, corrected at the beginning of printing.
Very rare cover in “first state” (Jean de Schelandre 1385-1636 on the second cover and the price of 3 frs on the spine). Small marginal tears to the covers, discreet restorations to the spine, rare and light scattered foxing attesting to the original condition of the copy, unwashed and unglued unlike most copies.
Our copy is housed in a custom clamshell box with the design of the original cover and spine, signed by Julie Nadot.
The vital importance of this collection of poems has made it from the start (a note on the copy of publisher Poulet-Malassis reveals the price of copies on hollande paper increased sixfold in just a few months), one of the most universally sought-after and traditionally luxuriously bound bibliophilic items, except for copies in modest contemporary bindings made for a few admirers and friends during the poet's lifetime. Copies preserved in their original softcover remain an exception, deserving a detailed inventory.
Many questions remain unanswered about the printing and distribution of this major work of French literature. Unredacted copies are often presented as copies sold before the “ridiculous surgical operation” (Baudelaire's own words) performed by Poulet-Malassis on the 200 copies still available. Baudelaire's correspondence, like Poulet-Malassis, reveals sales were nowhere near as successful. Most copies were simply withdrawn from sale and “put in a safe place” by the author and publisher:  “Quickly hide, but make sure to hide the whole edition well; you must have 900 still unsewn copies. – There were still 100 at Lanier; these gentlemen seemed very surprised that I wanted to save 50, so I put them in a safe place [...]. That leaves 50 to feed the Cerberus Justice [copies to be seized by the French government]” (Letter from Baudelaire to Poulet-Malassis, 11 July 1857). His publisher immediately complied, distributing his stock among various “accomplices” including Asselineau to whom he wrote on July 13: “Baudelaire wrote me a letter I received yesterday, announcing the court-ordered seizure. I'll have to wait to see it to believe it, but in any case, we've taken our precautions. The copies are safe and thanks to your good will, we will send today by train... a box containing 200 unsewn copies, which I beg you to keep until my next visit...”.
We have not found any record of these hidden copies being offered on sale again. Could we tie these unbound copies to the cover's various printings (the purpose of these almost insignificant corrections between printings being unclear)? Were all these copies put back on sale intact and unredacted, despite the court order?
The scarcity of first edition copies of The Flowers of Evil, and even more so in their original soft cover, could lead us to suspect at least some unsold and uncensored copies ultimately disappeared.
A founding work of modern poetry, inspiration of Lautréamont, Rimbaud and Mallarmé, The Flowers of Evil is known only through its second edition extensively corrected and recomposed by Baudelaire in 1861. The original 1857 edition is thus a unique work, never to be published again in its original form.
The few 'as issued' copies are the rarest and purest state of this monument to world literature.

60 000 €

Réf : 83704



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