Mean Monday: Baudelaire’s Preface to The Flowers of Evil
Baudelaire was sort of mean-spirited. I would have liked to have gotten drunk with him, maybe just once though, and then probably I would stay away from him. But damn, the preface to The Flowers of Evil is brilliant. The dude was a first class asshole. Baudelaire would have liked when Brian Johnson sang, “you get into evil, you’re a friend of mine:”
If there is any glory in not being understood, or in being only slightly so, I may without boasting say that with this little book I have at a single stroke both won and deserved that glory. Submitted several times over to various publishers who rejected it with disgust; put on trial and mutilated in 1857 as a result of a quite bizarre misapprehension; then gradually revived, added to, and strengthened during several years of silence, only to disappear again thanks to my losing interest in it, this discordant product of the Muse of modern times, again enlivened with a few violent new touches, dares today for the third time to face the sun of stupidity.
This is not my fault, but that of an insistent publisher who thinks he is strong enough to brave the public distaste. “This book will be a stain on your whole life,” one of my friends, a great poet, predicted from the beginning. And indeed all my misadventures have so far justified him. But I have one of those happy natures that enjoy hatred and feel glorified by contempt. My diabolically passionate taste for stupidity makes me take peculiar pleasure in the fabrications of calumny.
Tags: charles baudelaire