Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil & Artificial Paradise

The Flowers of Evil & Artificial Paradise

by Charles Baudelaire

Translated by R J Dent


baudelaire flowers of evil

‘A brand new translation that vividly brings Baudelaire’s masterpiece to life for the new millennium’


Here’s my new book. It’s a translation of Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil, published by Solar Books on November 9th 2008. According to the blurb it’s ‘a brand new translation that vividly brings Baudelaire’s masterpiece to life for the new millennium’.



The translation was a labour of love; it started years ago, when I studied Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal as an undergraduate. I realised how inaccurate the available translations were, and promptly set about translating twenty or so of the best poems, particularly the banned ones. In the process, I very quickly came to admire Charles Baudelaire’s poetic voice. It was refined and dignified, and yet very daring. I now understand these contradictions, if that’s what they are.


Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire



I found the translation process itself very interesting. Because Baudelaire’s writing is very visual, it was almost like time-travel; I wandered around 19th century Paris, absorbing the sights, sounds, scents; was taken into the bedrooms of many dusky women, all of them sprawled across their beds, dressed only in jewels and perfume.


When I had finished the translation, I was back in the 21st century. I couldn’t wait to get back to Baudelaire’s Paris. The translation process itself was very much like archaeology. I had the French text and I would work at it steadily, uncovering its buried English meaning, word by word, line by line, until finally, the whole poem would stand naked before me in all its pristine glory. That’s Baudelaire’s poetry for you. If only all translation work was like that.


Incidentally, I very much enjoyed translating the introductory essay by Guillaume Apollinaire, which is now published for the first time in English.


Solar Books has done a great job with The Flowers of Evil. With it they’ve included a new version of Artificial Paradise, which is a series of Baudelaire’s reflections on wine, hashish and opium.


Odilon Redon’s cover picture, which he painted specifically for The Flowers of Evil, perfectly captures the zeitgeist of Baudelaire’s 19th century Paris.




The Flowers of Evil & Artificial Paradise

Charles Baudelaire

Translated by R J Dent




ISBN-10: 0-9799847-7-7

ISBN-13: 978-0-9799847-7-8

Publication date: November 2008




It can be ordered from Solar Books at:




or from at:




or from at:






Details of this book and my other works can be found at:
















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5 Responses to “Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil & Artificial Paradise”

  1. Michael T Says:

    I love Baudelaire’s poetry – to me he’s better than Shakespeare! 🙂

  2. theothergardener Says:

    All the attention on Baudelaire’s social views left his spiritual side untended for a long time. It’s good to see that “les paradis artificiels” is included in this edition. Baudelaire believed that evil plays an equally important role in our spiritual progress as our striving after good, if not more so. Rather than being a negative Law, it’s a necessary and unavoidable passage—those who deny they have evil are lying and will never get beyond. Of course Gide took up this concept later and developed it into a form of self-analysis. I’ll definitely look for this edition.

  3. Simon Beach Says:

    I have bought this book & I love what you’ve done with Baudelaire. Such a clean translation. Keep up the great work, sir. I’ve added you to my blogroll.

  4. Jean Duval Says:

    Nice-looking book – I’ve ordered it from Amazon – looking forward to reading it after seeing the samples on your website. Baudelaire’s a bit out of fashion at the moment, so a modern translation was long overdue.

  5. Martin Atkins Says:

    He’s so uncool – I don’t know why you bothered translating this book. Okay, there are those who call it a ‘classic’, but that’s just elitist crap. There are some very bad Baudelaire poems. Why didn’t you translate Ronsard instead? Or better still – Villon. Baudelaire sucks….

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