Librairie Le Feu Follet - Paris - +33 (0)1 56 08 08 85 - Contact us - 31 Rue Henri Barbusse, 75005 Paris

Antique books - Bibliophily - Art works

Sell - Valuation - Buy
Les Partenaires du feu follet Ilab : International League of Antiquarian Booksellers SLAM : Syndicat national de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne
Advanced search

Sale conditions

Payment methods :

Secure payment (SSL)
Bank transfer
Administrative order
(Museums and libraries)

Delivery options and times

Sale conditions

First edition

Charles BAUDELAIRE Les Fleurs du mal


Les Fleurs du mal

Poulet-Malassis & de Broise, Paris 1861, 12,8x19,7cm, broché sous coffret.

| Very scarce mint copy in its original wrappers with untrimmed edges |

Les Fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil] Poulet-Malassis & De Broise, Paris 1861, 12,8x19,7cm, original wrappers under a slipcase and chemise with inner flaps.
The second édition originale on ordinary paper. Fifteen hundred copies had been printed, plus 4 on chine paper, a few copies on hollande and on vélin. Complete with the portrait of the author by Félix Bracquemond (often missing), here in first state on papier chine pasted on the page (before letters, i.e. “L'Artiste” on top of the portrait).
A very rare copy with untrimmed margins and no foxing, preserved in its original soft cover; housed in a custom clamshell box with the design of the original cover and spine, signed by Julie Nadot.

Mistakenly considered as “partly original”, this edition was entirely revised by the author, with 35 newly composed poems and 55 “deeply rewritten” poems [profondément remaniés] among the 129 poems. This true new first edition of Les Fleurs du Mal is the culmination of Baudelaire's grand œuvre and the only text of reference for foreign language translations.

An edition worthy of further research
Long considered a simple expanded edition, this important publication has received little scholarly interest although it offers a valuable and instructive research area: namely the different states of Bracquemond's engraving, but also the misprints of the very first copies partly corrected during printing, including two missing initials in our copy (p. 20 and 49) added in ink at the time. It strangely resonates with a remark made by Charles Baudelaire to his editor, in January 1861:

Without a doubt the book has good general appearance; but until the last good leaf, I found gross negligences. In this house, it is the proofreaders who are lacking. For example, they don't understand punctuation, from a logical point of view; and many other things. There are also broken letters, fallen letters, Roman numerals of unequal size and length, etc. ...

His editor Poulet-Malassis had indeed separated from his printer De Broise and the new Fleurs du Mal edition was printed by Simon Raçon in Paris. This change of printer could also be linked with the foxing present in numerous second edition copies, which could be explained by a paper of lesser quality, making copies without foxing especially rare.

Posterity's choice
Les Fleurs du Mal have two faces. To the third one it is allowed to dream”.

When Claude Pichois collected Baudelaire's works for the Pléiade edition, he had to choose between three: the first of 1857, the 1861 edition revised by the author and the last published shortly after Baudelaire's death in 1868.
Although the 1868 third edition is the most complete with 25 added poems its “architecture” and perhaps even the choice of unpublished poems may not have accurately reflected the poet's initial wishes. This is certainly the more comprehensive, however it can only be qualified as “partly original”. Along with an introduction by Théophile Gautier, the poet Théodore de Banville established the order of the edition and included numerous unpublished poems among the already existing ones.
The mythical, historically influential 1857 first edition obviously cannot be stripped from its princeps status. With its famous misprints (carefully hand corrected on the first copies given out by the author), its censored poems (missing from the second edition), but above all its thoughtful and corrected editing right up to the very last proofs (and to the point of driving his editor crazy, nicknamed “Coco mal perché” that Baudelaire exhausted with remarks and criticisms), the so-called “1857” edition is unquestionably a landmark in literary and poetic history. The few copies containing the condemned pieces are among the most desirable bibliophilic treasures.

However, the first edition could not be considered the sole form of Baudelaire's masterpiece, as the poet thoroughly revisited it in the following years.

Far from a simple collection of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal is built from a unique narrative logic in the history of poetry. As his editor Poulet-Malassis learned the hard way, Baudelaire conceived his book both as a “plastic” and literary artwork. Divided into distinct thematic sections, Spleen et idéal, Fleurs du Mal, Révolte, Le Vin, La Mort as well as more implicit series (notably dedicated to the women he loved), Baudelaire's work unfolds over the course of poems linked together by an invisible thread and simultaneously creates a narrative as much as a painting. The absence of the condemned pieces breaks this subtle pictorial diegesis and forced Baudelaire to rethink his book entirely.

The second edition becomes an opportunity for an entirely new work. Baudelaire subsequently conceived a different organization, wrote new poems in-between old ones, modified most of the previously published poems and worked out a new ending. As a result, it is this 1861 edition now known by the modern reader and chosen by the editors of the Pléiade, since its first publication of Baudelaire's complete works in 1931. It remained the text of reference for all future editions.

For following citations, we decided to avoid poorly translated comparisons of poems corrected by the author between the first and second edition. They are left in French, only the titles of sections and poems are translated after Richard Howard (Baudelaire: Poems, Albert A. Knopf, 1993) or William Aggeler (The Flowers of Evil, Academy Library Guild, 1954).

Between 1857 and 1861, Baudelaire worked intensely on his greatest work. He first set out to simply replace the censored poems with six new ones. In November 1858, he wrote to Poulet-Malassis: “I am beginning to believe that instead of six flowers, I will make twenty”. It is the beginning of a significant rewriting of the poem collection and a complete rearrangement of its structure. Important poems such as “The Music” , “The kind-hearted servant”, “Beauty” or “When skies are low and heavy as a lid” are only known today in their final 1861 version and greatly differ from their first composition. 
Baudelaire especially expanded his work by more than a third and then added thirty-five poems between 1857 and 1861, some of which are among his most important.
His masterpiece “The Albatross”, timeless symbol of the cursed poet, was partly composed during Baudelaire's early years but only appeared in this 1861 edition. It replaced the rather dull poem “Soleil” [The Sun] (relegated to Tableaux parisiens), becoming the third poem of the collection and a key element of his newly revised edition. In direct response to 1857 censorship, it forms with the two preceding poems, “To the Reader” and “Bénédiction”, the infernal Baudelairian circle: suffering, doom, and incomprehension. “To the Reader” was famously quoted in T. S. Eliot's Waste Land.
Similarly, the absence of the scandalous and censored “The Jewels” was skillfully hidden by another poem “The Mask”, in which a woman turned statue deplores its motionless aesthetic “in Renaissance style”. However, Baudelaire needed a more sensual “Hymn to Beauty” and introduced under this title a poetic glorification of a divinity freed from good, evil, and bigoted censorship.
It seems that in Baudelaire's opinion, the two poems did not entirely replace “blending candor with lechery” of the censored poem “The Jewels”. They only represent the beginning of a new “Ecstatic fleece that ripples to your nape” appearing on two pages following the poem “Exotic Perfume”. His sensual masterpiece “The Head of Hair” stemmed – like Botticelli's Aphrodite – from this new wave of poems.
Then, not replacing any particular poem, appears a short piece titled “Duellum” followed by the essential “Possessed” and four “Phantom[s]”. The 1861 edition of Les Fleurs du Mal took off and developed its own individual nature, independent of the previous one. By sending to his editor Poulet-Malassis his new and sensual poem “Possessed” Baudelaire decided the republication of Les Fleurs to be a new masterpiece. This new edition subsequently suffered the same legal setbacks as the first, proved by the reaction of the poet to the legitimate concern of his editor:
“I did not believe that this miserable sonnet could add anything to all the humiliations that you endured because of Les Fleurs du Mal. It is possible, after all, that the subtle turn of your mind has made you take 'Belzébuth' for cunt and the 'lovely dagger' for cock”.

Freed from the tedious task of replacing censored poems, Baudelaire entirely reworks his book as poetic maturity and pathetic love affairs set him on a new path. His break-up with “La Présidente” Apollonie Sabatier, Jeanne Duval's fall from grace and the betrayal of Marie Daubrun deeply transformed his conception of “Spleen” and “Ideal”. He ignored censorship and replaced criminal sexuality in “To She Who Is Too Gay” with another wound, that of the phallic dagger in “Possessed”. He then reckons with Madame Sabatier by ending the cycle he dedicated to her with a very explicit “Semper Eadam” [Ever the Same]: “Once our heart has gathered the grapes from its vineyard, Living is an evil /[…] And though your voice is sweet, be still!” (William Aggeler's translation).
Baudelaire himself had confessed to his revered “Présidente” that his love for her was reflected in the 1857 edition of Les Fleurs: “Every line between page 84 and page 105 [of the poem “Altogether” to “The Perfume Flask”] belong to you.” (Letter to Madame Sabatier, August 18, 1857) and that two of the poems were “incriminated” by “the wretched” magistrates,  (“Altogether”, finally spared by censorship, and “To She Who Is Too Gay”).
Baudelaire already berated her “malicious gaiety” that becomes in “Semper”: “No more talking now / my prying ignoramus”. The joy leitmotiv characterizing the 'Présidente' is condemned for the first time in 1861. This new piece is moreover placed at the beginning of a cycle of poems and sets the tone for all others.

Unlike the 1857 edition where the sacred ideal woman reaches sacrificial desecration, the new “Sabatier” series of poems in the 1861 edition is marked by disappointment following the possession of his goddess, who turns out to be too human. His poetic work reflects Charles' own confession to his lover Apollonie Sabatier, as soon as their relationship is consummated: “A few days ago, you were a divinity, which is so convenient, so beautiful, so inviolable. Now you are a woman” (Letter to Madame Sabatier, 31 August 1857).

This typical baudelairian duality between idealization and disappointment finds its complete achievement in the composition of the 1861 Fleurs du Mal.
The most explicit evidence of this radical change can be found on Madame Sabatier's copies. Baudelaire gifted her his 1857 edition of Les Fleurs du Mal with this inscription: “To the Very Beautiful, to the Very Good, to the Very Dear / Whether in Night or Solitude, / Whether in the street or the multitude, / Her ghost in the air dances like a Flambeau / All my Being obeys this living Flambeau! / C. B.”. Her copy of the second edition shows their relationship had completely shifted: “To Madame Sabatier, Old friendship, C. B.”
This wind of desacralization also affects the “old” poems of the series, transformed by subtle but significant modifications:
A simple past tense replaces the present perfect and places “Altogether” in a bygone era. The “Guardian Angel” of the poem “What Will You Say Tonight” loses a capital letter, drastically modifying the meaning of this “guardian”. Finally, in “The Living Torch” (a poem inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's “To Helen”, and used in his 1857 inscription to Sabatier with the previous poem), the “electric eyes” of his beloved “pass”, but do not “capture” the look of the poet anymore. The sun also loses its uniqueness and is only used as a synonym of stars.
His “Confession” becomes even more explicit: dashes dear to Baudelaire disappear, replaced by parentheses and simple commas. His analogy with the “flagging dancer” becomes an uniformity.
With this rewriting, Baudelaire does not change the meaning of his poems after his disappointments in love. He brings in the heart of the Idéal the wrench of the Spleen, and his poetry freed from his desires is also liberated from its prosaic inspiration and thus becomes universal.

To the Stendhal-like obsession around “La Présidente” echoed an equally demonized Jeanne Duval – Baudelaire's other great passion. Struck with hemiplegia in 1859, she is no longer “the vampire” who, in the 1857 edition, “like a hideous host / of demons, gaudy and libertine”. She becomes in the second edition “strong as a host”, and occupies a major place in the added poems, including “Duellum” where Charles, without renouncing the intrinsic violence of their love, follows the unfortunate Jeanne Duval in hell: “so leap right in, my heartless Amazon/to keep our hatred's fire perpetual”. Baudelaire especially pays a wonderful and tragic tribute to his fallen lover in the following and newly composed poem “Un Fantôme : Les Ténèbres”, where he recognized [his] beautiful visitor: “It's She! dark and yet luminous”. “Le Parfum”, with the “Profound, magical charm, with which the past, / Restored to life, makes us inebriate!”. “Le Cadre”, in which the loved one holds a “An indefinable strangeness and charm / By isolating it from vast nature”. Finally in “Le Portrait”, he loses his naive irony found in the previously published “Carrion” and observes the reality of death settling in his lover's body:
Of those kisses potent as dittany,
Of those transports more vivid than sunbeams,
What remains? It is frightful, O my soul!
Nothing but a faint sketch, in three colors
While Baudelaire revelled in the contemplation of “the worms who will / Devour [her] with kisses” and yet “kept the form and the divine essence / Of [his] decomposed love!”, Charles finally revolts against death when confronted with the actual decay of Jeanne:
Black murderer of Life and Art,
You will never kill in my memory
The one who was my glory and my joy!

Marie Daubrun also spreads her wings over the flowers of her unfortunate lover, with “Autumnal, a new poem and one of the most beautiful of the collection. Gabriel Fauré famously set this poem to music (Opus 5). This emblematic work of the Baudelairian universe inspired major works of literature, including Verlaine's “Chanson d'automne” and Rainer Maria Rilke's “L'Automne”.
It is undoubtedly Marcel Proust, avid reader of Les Fleurs, who was greatly influenced by the poetic emotion of “Chant d'automne”. These lines from the poem are the most quoted throughout Proust's work according to scholar Antoine Compagnon: “And nothing / – not love, the boudoir, nor its busy hearth – / can match the summer's radiance on the sea.” Thus in In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower:
“Imagining that I was 'seated on the jetty' or at rest in the 'boudoir' of which Baudelaire speaks, I asked myself whether his 'sun shining on the sea' was not—a very different thing from the evening ray, simple and superficial as a golden, tremulous shaft—just what at that moment was scorching the sea topaz-brown”
(William Carter's translation, p. 274). Another poem from the 1861 edition appears in Sodom and Gomorrah:
“Their giant wings from walking do hinder them' quoted Madame de Cambremer, confusing the seagull with the albatross” (William Carter's translation, p. 235).
Philandering Marie Daubrun cannot be confined to “the fleeting warmth / of a sumptuous autumn” and Baudelaire also had [to build for [her] […] / An underground altar in the depths of [his] grief]. Thus was born the poem “To a Madonna” ending the Daubrun poem series with a crime in the 1861 edition:
And to mix love with inhumanity,
Infamous pleasure! of the seven deadly sins,
I, torturer full of remorse, shall make seven
Well sharpened Daggers and, like a callous juggler,
Taking your deepest love for a target,
I shall plant them all in your panting Heart,
In your sobbing Heart, in your bleeding Heart!

Hence in the 1861 edition the three great female figures of Les Fleurs finally reach their full poetic dimension: angelic Apollonie, devilish Jeanne and the all too human Marie. The cursed lover Charles rejects one, loses the other and no longer expects anything from the last.
This triple poetic break-up paves the way to other amorous forms and sets up surprising tensions between conventions of verse technique. The series inspired from other muses is expanded with three new poems including “Chanson d'après-midi”, the only one in heptasyllables. This odd metric had disappeared since the Middle Ages (except for two poems by La Fontaine) and further inspired Rimbaud (“Honte”) and Verlaine's “Art poétique” (“Music first and foremost! In your verse, / Choose those meters odd of syllable” (Norman R. Shapiro's translation)). Finally, the mysterious “Sonnet d'Automne” ending this cycle seems to gather in a “daisy” every petal of loved women: Marie's “crystal eyes”, the annoying cheerfulness of “La Présidente” “Stay lovely and keep still!” and the “specter made of grace and of splendor” of Jeanne Duval becomes “white as your wintry Faust, cold Marguerite”. The alchemy uniting every woman in a single poem translates Baudelaire's poetic maturity and frees his flowers from their painful inspiration.

Among the other new poems from “Spleen et Idéal”, every single one deserves a special mention:
– “A Fantastic Engraving” written over almost ten years
– “Obsession”, its last stanza seems to have directly inspired Verlaine's “Mon rêve familier” published five years later:
Yet even shadows have their shapes which live
where I imagine them to be, the hordes
of vanished souls whose eyes acknowledge mine.
– “The Taste for Nothingness” according to Claude Pichois “one of the most desperate poems of Baudelaire”
– “Alchemy of Suffering” inspired by Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater which Baudelaire had just translated
– “Sympathetic Horror” in reference to painter Eugène Delacroix
Baudelaire again chose to end this series with a new poem composed in 1860:
-“The Clock” , a wonderful memento mori, one of the oldest poetic themes revisited by Baudelairean alchemy without any hedonism other than artistic creation:
Remember! Souviens-toi! Esto memor!
(My metal throat is polyglot.) The ore
of mortal minutes crumbles, unrefined,
from which your golden nuggets must be panned

“Tableaux parisiens”, today considered as an integral part of Les Fleurs du Mal and specific to Baudelaire's poetry is missing from the 1857 edition. This new subdivision made up of 18 mostly unpublished poems was especially created for the second edition. “The Swan” considered as “perhaps the most beautiful of Baudelaire's poems by its depth and its resonances” appears in this new section. Pichois wrote a 5-page analysis on this modern masterpiece in his Pléiade edition. However the following poems also include some true gems: “The Little Old Ladies” and “The Seven Old Men” dedicated to Victor Hugo, “To a Passer-by”, “Dance of Death” the most widely distributed poem during Baudelaire's lifetime, and “Parisian Dream” penultimate poem structuring the 'Tableaux' section and most brilliant model of the romantic, “shadowy, desperately dramatic urban landscape” (Richard Howard) created by Baudelaire.
Finally, thanks to this second edition no one can imagine Les Fleurs du Mal without its climactic end and the three previously unpublished poems added after “The Death of Artists”. “End of the Day” (never published in a journal), “Dream of a Curious Man” and especially “Le Voyage” whose 144 verses will inspire both researchers and 20th-century poets. While the 1857 edition ended on a triple death, Les Fleurs of 1861 herald a triple resurrection. The three poems sign the victory of the poet over the terrible “Ennui” opening the collection “in a yawn [which would] swallow the world”. In 1861, death is no longer an end. The poet rushes towards it: “I shall lie down flat on my back / And wrap myself in your curtains, / O refreshing shadows!” only to get up again: “I had simply died, and the terrible dawn / enveloped me. Could this be all there is? / The curtain was up, and I was waiting still.” From then on, the poet begins his real journey beyond the limits of real life and the artifices of dreams from which he picked all the flowers:
This fire burns our brains so fiercely, we wish to plunge
To the abyss' depths, Heaven or Hell, does it matter?
To the depths of the Unknown to find something new!

To consider the 1861 edition a simple expanded edition would be reading Les Fleurs du Mal, “on which [he] worked for 20 years” (letter to his mother, April 1, 1861) as a simple randomly ordered collection of poems and thus ignoring the will of the poet as he detailed it to Alfred De Vigny in an inscribed copy of the second edition: “Here are Les Fleurs […]. All the old poems are reworked […] The only praise I ask for this book is that one recognizes that it is not a simple album and that it has a beginning and an end. Every new poem was made to be adapted to a singular setting that I had chosen.” (December 12, 1861)
Claude Pichois and Jean Ziegler pointed out in Baudelaire's biography:
Les Fleurs of 1861 constitute a first edition almost as much as the 1857 edition. The second does not only contain a third more poems. Their structure has been reorganized and often the order of each piece has changed; finally the sections expand from five to six, according to an order which has been modified. […] Les Fleurs du Mal of 1861 made Baudelaire one of the leaders of new generations”.
New poems and reorganization alone establish this new edition as an original work.

Divine form of these recomposed poems
Behind the importance of newly composed poems lies another poetic revolution, announced by Charles to his mother, revealing the importance of this new production: Les Fleurs du Mal is finished. We are in the process of making the cover and the portrait. There are thirty-five new pieces, and every old piece has been thoroughly reworked.” (January 1, 1861)
His claim of rewriting every previously published poem is hardly exaggerated. Of the 94 poems in the first edition, 55 have been altered.
Some of them include seemingly subtle corrections: letters, hyphens, plurals, punctuation. However, they have a major influence on rhythm and reading.
Dashes structuring many of the 1857 poems mostly disappear in the 1861 edition. These multiple “voices” are thus abandoned and only first edition owners are now aware of their importance in the original construction of Baudelairian poetry. “Confession” (seven dashes in the 1857 version), “Harmonies du Soir” [Evening Harmony] (six dashes), “Le Flacon” [The Flask] (nine dashes) do not contain any in the 1861 edition. “Le Balcon” [The Balcony] keeps one of its three dashes; it now includes many dots breaking the original fluidity of the poem.
Other poems show real changes in meaning and symbolism. A word or an entire line are substituted, “juive” [Jewess] is capitalized, transforming his lover Sara into an absolute representation of 'otherness'. She becomes a mirror of the poet and of Jeanne, his other lover to whom she is compared, a mulattress of “sad beauty”. In “Le Poison”, the very properties of the most important Artificial Paradises are altered by the modification of a verb.

57: L'opium agrandit ce qui n'a pas de bornes,
Projette l'illimité,
61: L'opium agrandit ce qui n'a pas de bornes,
Allonge l'illimité,

Besides these subtle shifts in meaning, some poems go through profound stylistic changes which turned Les Fleurs du Mal into a timeless masterpiece.
Poems such as “I Prize the Memory of Naked Ages”, “Benediction” or “To a Red-Haired Beggar Girl” are only truly accomplished in their 1861 version.
In the same manner, the aptly named poem “La Beauté” has some surprising flaws in its 1857 version:

Les poètes devant mes grandes attitudes,
Qu'on dirait que j'emprunte aux plus fiers monuments,
Consumeront leurs jours en d'austères études ;
Car j'ai pour fasciner ces dociles amants
De purs miroirs qui font les étoiles plus belles :
Mes yeux, mes larges yeux aux clartés éternelles !
61: Les poëtes, devant mes grandes attitudes,
Que j'ai l'air d'emprunter aux plus fiers monuments,
Consumeront leurs jours en d'austères études ;
Car j'ai, pour fasciner ces dociles amants,
De purs miroirs qui font toutes choses plus belles :
Mes yeux, mes larges yeux aux clartés éternelles !
Oftentimes Baudelaire also transforms the organization of the stanzas changing rhymes schemes from ABAB to ABBA in “Je te donne ces vers” [I Give You These Verses]. And in “Le Jeu” [Gambling], changing here the rhyme itself :
57: Dans des fauteuils fanés des courtisanes vieilles,
Fronts poudrés, sourcils peints sur des regards d'acier, —
Qui s'en vont brimbalant à leurs maigres oreilles
Un cruel et blessant tic-tac de balancier ;
61: Dans des fauteuils fanés des courtisanes vieilles,
Pâles, le sourcil peint, l'œil câlin et fatal,
Minaudant, et faisant de leurs maigres oreilles
Tomber un cliquetis de pierre et de métal ;
Rewrites in some of his most important poems make us measure the importance of this “second” édition originale:
“La musique”:
57: La musique parfois me prend comme une mer !
Vers ma pâle étoile,
Sous un plafond de brume ou dans un pur éther,
Je mets à la voile ;
La poitrine en avant et gonflant mes poumons
De toile pesante,
Je monte et je descends sur le dos des grands monts
D'eau retentissante ;
Je sens vibrer en moi toutes les passions
D'un vaisseau qui souffre
Le bon vent, la tempête et ses convulsions
Sur le sombre gouffre
Me bercent, et parfois le calme, — grand miroir
De mon désespoir !
61:La musique souvent me prend comme une mer !
Vers ma pâle étoile,
Sous un plafond de brume ou dans un vaste éther,
Je mets à la voile ;
La poitrine en avant et les poumons gonflés
Comme de la toile,
J'escalade le dos des flots amoncelés
Que la nuit me voile ;
Je sens vibrer en moi toutes les passions
D'un vaisseau qui souffre ;
Le bon vent, la tempête et ses convulsions
Sur l'immense gouffre
Me bercent. D'autre fois, calme plat, grand miroir
De mon désespoir !

Also thoroughly rewritten, “When skies are low and heavy as a lid”, also known as “Spleen IV”, last and most emblematic poem of the Baudelairian “Spleen” was the subject of a lengthy structural analysis by linguist Roman Jakobson. The ending's symbolic power owes much to the 1861 rewriting process:
57: Et d'anciens corbillards, sans tambours ni musique,
Défilent lentement dans mon âme ; et, l'Espoir
Pleurant comme un vaincu, l'Angoisse despotique
Sur mon crâne incliné plante son drapeau noir.
61:— Et de longs corbillards, sans tambours ni musique,
Défilent lentement dans mon âme ; l'Espoir,
Vaincu, pleure, et l'Angoisse atroce, despotique,
Sur mon crâne incliné plante son drapeau noir.
The first verse from “La servante au grand cœur” received high praise from Apollinaire who called it a “vers événement” according to Cocteau. It would probably not have gotten such recognition if Baudelaire had kept the first version from 1857:
57: La servante au grand cœur dont vous étiez jalouse
Dort-elle son sommeil sous une humble pelouse ? —
Nous aurions déjà dû lui porter quelques fleurs.
Les morts, les pauvres morts ont de grandes douleurs,
61: La servante au grand cœur dont vous étiez jalouse,
Et qui dort son sommeil sous une humble pelouse,
Nous devrions pourtant lui porter quelques fleurs.
Les morts, les pauvres morts, ont de grandes douleurs

When Baudelaire stated in a letter to Alfred de Vigny “All the old poems are reworked”, Claude Pichois pointed out his exaggerated choice of words. 39 poems out of 129 in the 1861 Fleurs du Mal indeed remain identical to the 1857 edition. Yet this very statement underlines the profound metamorphosis imposed on the first edition by new poems, new sections, complete restructuring of the poems' order as well as intense rewriting.
This “second edition” is truly the completion of Baudelaire's grand œuvre.
As did Sade before him by writing two editions of Justine, and later Blanchot who published two Thomas l'Obscur, Baudelaire offers to readers both fundamentally linked and distinct poetic works under a similar title. All these writers undoubtedly experienced the same feeling as Baudelaire after publishing their final work:
“For the first time in my life, I am almost happy. The book is almost good, and it will remain, this book, as a testimony of my disgust and hatred of all things.” (Letter to his mother, January 1st, 1861)


Réf : 83098

Set an alert

  On-line help