An illustration from 1935 by Italian-born artist Carlo Farneti for a posthumous edition of Charles Baudelaire’s book of poetry ‘Les Fleurs du Mal.’
“That heart which flutters like a fledgling bird,
I shall tear, bleeding, from his breast, to pitch
It blandly in the dust without a word
To slake the hunger of my favorite bitch.”
—a passage from Charles Baudelaire’s poetry book, Les Fleurs du Mal.
When French poet Charles Baudelaire first published his poetry book Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) in 1857 it caused quite the scandal. Baudelaire, his publisher Poulet Malassis and the book’s printer were all prosecuted for creating “an insult to public decency.” Baudelaire would eventually be convicted on two charges—obscenity and blasphemy. He was also forced to remove several poems from the book when it was republished in 1861. Below is a portion from Les Fleurs du Mal “Une Charogne” (“A Carcass”) in which Baudelaire beautifully romanticizes a decomposing corpse:
“The blow-flies were buzzing round that putrid belly,
From which came forth black battalions
Of maggots, which oozed out like a heavy liquid
All along those living tatters.
Then tell the vermin as it takes its pleasance
And feasts with kisses on that face of yours,
I’ve kept intact in form and godlike essence
Our decomposed amours!”
The controversy over Les Fleurs du Mal would eventually lead to the demise of Baudelaire’s career as a poet. Heartbreakingly, Baudelaire would pass away in 1867—ten years after the publication of Les Fleurs du Mal, addicted to opium, penniless and in a state of perpetual paralysis. Les Fleurs de Mal was published yet again in 1868 to include previously unpublished poems written by the poet. This publication would reignite interest in his work which would continue to grow in the years following his death. In 1935 Italian artist Carlo Farneti created a series of evocative illustrations for Les Fleurs du Mal for Parisian bookstore Gibert Jeune. Farneti had relocated to France in 1926 and quickly became a sought-after artist creating illustrations for books by renowned French novelist Émile Zola and Edgar Allen Poe (who Baudelaire referred to as his “twin soul.”) Twelve of Farneti’s exquisite illustrations for Les Fleurs du Mal follow—some are gorgeously NSFW.
HT: 50 Watts
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Gay Japanese erotica from the 17th-19th centuries (NSFW)
Sex, Satan and surrealism: The unsettling erotica of Michael Hutter
Strange, Seductive and Surreal Erotica from 1920-30’s Vienna
The gorgeous lesbian erotica of Gerda Wegener
Tricky dicks and flying vaginas: The satanic erotica of ‘Les Diables de Lithographies’