The poems of The Flowers of Evil were written in Paris at a time of revolution and accelerating change - the beginning of mass culture, the rise of consumerism and the middle-class, the radical redevelopment of the city by Haussmann - and they provide many parallels with the malaise and uncertainties of contemporary capitalist societies. Here we find poems about love (and love-hate), birds and beasts, Paris scenes and street people; about spiritual revolt, wine, death, travel and far-away places. The poet's voice is by turns ironical, angry and compassionate, his words charged with anguish, desire and rapture. Jan Owen's masterly translation captures all of this in a selection that includes many of Baudelaire's best kwn poems - including those banned from 1857 edition - as well as some less familiar ones, with the volume leading up to his great long poem, 'The Voyage', and finishing with the much-loved sonnet 'Meditation'.
Charles Baudelaire's work is of immense importance in world literature. With his urban attitude and subject matter, and his blending and balancing of the romantic and classical traditions, he was the forerunner of modernism, the first truly confessional poet, speaking in his own voice in all he wrote. 'Father of modern poetry', he was also a visionary art critic, the progenitor of the prose poem, a pioneer of symbolism, and the influential translator of Edgar Allan Poe. Although popularly known as a poet of decadence because of his treatment in poetry of new and often disturbing subject matter - sex, drugs, death, self-disgust, sin and satanism, it was the ideal of beauty that was his guiding principle, and his work has an uncompromising allegiance to truth.