The Flowers of Evil, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


The Flowers of Evil, which T. S. Eliot called the greatest example of modern poetry in any language, shocked the literary world of nineteenth century France with its outspoken portrayal of lesbian love, its linking sexuality and death, its unremitting irony, and its unflinching celebration of the seamy side of urban life.

The volume was seized by the police, and Baudelaire and his published were put on trial for offence to public decency.

Six offending poems were banned, in a conviction that was not overturned until 1949.

This bold new translation, which restores the banned poems to their original places and reveals the full richness and variety of the collection, makes available to English speakers a powerful and original version of the world.

Jonathan Culler's Introduction outlines this vision, stressing that Baudelaire is more than just the poet of the modern city. Originally to be called 'The Lesbians', The Flowers of Evil contains the most extraordinary body of love poetry. The poems also pose the question of the role of evil in our lives, of whether there are not external forces working to frustrate human plans and to enlist men and women on appalling or stultifying scenarios not of their own making.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe.

Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Poetry by individual poets
  • ISBN: 9780199535583

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Simply powerful and moving. Baudelaire really knows how to throw a reader in to an abyss. While the poems have a tendency to be grim, the language that he uses makes them lovely in their very own way. I haven't read all the poems in French but some things get lost in translation in the English versions. I recommend reading them in French as well.

Review by

The epitome of decadence and one of the greatest volumes of modern poetry. Dark, sometimes gruesome, images of sex and death are presented in beautiful language completely opposite to its subject. It is no wonder why this volume fought constant censorship in France from its initial publication in 1857 all the way up to sixty years ago. If you enjoy poetry, you have to read this. If you don't enjoy poetry, you have to read this. I read the MacGowan translation, which seems to preserve the cadence very well. Perfect for a cold morning with a cup of hot tea.

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