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June 1, 1857: Les Fleurs du mal is published. Charles...

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Felix Bracquemond, unpublished 1st ed.

June 1, 1857: Les Fleurs du mal is published.

Charles Baudelaire’s controversial book of poetry was divided into six sections, those being “Spleen and Ideal”, “Parisian Scenes”, “Wine”, the eponymous “Flowers of Evil”, “Revolt”, and “Death”. The first edition of Les Fleurs du mal sold out within a year of its publication, made possible largely by the scandal that arose because of Baudelaire’s “obscene” works, which according to judges incited in his readers “the excitement of the senses by a crude realism offensive to public decency”. The second edition, released in 1861, was published missing six poems (all of which remained banned until 1949).

The six censored poems were LesbosWomen Doomed (In the pale glimmer…), Lethe, To One Who is Too Gay, The Jewels, and The Vampire’s Metamorphoses.

Some choice lines…

Lesbos, of sultry twilights and pure, infertile joy,
Where deep-eyed maidens, thoughtlessly disrobing, see
Their beauty, and are entranced before their mirrors, and toy
Fondly with the soft fruits of their nubility;
Lesbos, of sultry twilights and pure, infertile joy! (“Lesbos”)

The strong beauty kneeling before the frail beauty, 
Superb, she savored voluptuously 
The wine of her triumph and stretched out toward the girl 
As if to reap her reward of sweet thankfulness. (“Women Doomed”)

To punish your bombastic flesh, 
To bruise your breast immune to pain, 
To farrow down your flank a lane 
Of gaping crimson, deep and fresh. (“To One Who is Too Gay”)

When she had sucked my marrow dry, I turned,
Languid, to give her back the kiss she earned,
Only to view, I fond and amorous,
A viscid wineskin, nidorous with pus… (“The Vampire’s Metamorphoses”)


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