Les Fleurs du Mal, once the most infamous book of poems in French literature, has in this century become the most famous and the most admired, owing its "landmark" status to the sheer aesthetic quality of its verses rather than to its judicial condemnation on its first publication in 1857. In this volume, Professor Leakey provides a comprehensive guide to the understanding and appreciation of Les Fleurs du Mal, offering new insights into its composition, themes and style, setting it in its historical context, and devoting a whole chapter to Baudelaire's crowning achievement, Le Cygne.
"...F.W. Leakey's concise volume serves as an excellent guide to Baudelaire's poetry and life. Leakey's lifelong study of Baudelaire's works is apparent on every page, an artful blend of essential information and critical insight. ... What distinguishes this volume overall is the ease with which Leakey ties Baudelaire's work to the broad tradition of French lyric verse, and simultaneously sets it apart, highlighting Baudelaire's originality and modernity." French Review