Charles Baudelaire

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Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1897) holds the most wide-ranging influence of the French Symbolist poets. A respected reviewer and critic whose translations of Edgar Allan Poe were much admired in his time, he died young, at only forty-six, but left behind a legacy of work at the center of which stands his masterpiece, the poems of Les Fleurs du mal, first published in 1857 to shock and acclaim. (Victor Hugo was an admirer, as were Rimbaud, Verlaine, and others.) Baudelaire’s prosodic confidence, deft use of rhyme, and absolute control of tone provide a striking contrast with the tumultuous emotional life that his poems record. Particularly impressive are his imaginative range and insight into the human psyche as he observed it in the urban life of Paris.