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Culture

Baudelaire’s preciously unpublished stanza revealed in Paris

By Maria D. Valderrama / Paris / A first edition copy of Charles Baudelaire’s iconic Les Fleures du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) containing an previously unknown stanza in one of the poems has be discovered in a private library in Paris belonging to a family of editors and writers.

The discovery was made by French auctioneer Myrtille Dumonteil, who found the book kept in a bookcase in a Parisian flat.

To her surprise, when she saw the book, she realized there were four verses at the end of the well-known poem Les Bijoux (The jewels) which have never been published before.

The work was analyzed and authenticated with the help of expert bookseller Emmanuel Lhermite, who was able to prove it was Baudelaire’s handwritting.

“We do inventory every week, it is the basis of our job, but it is true that such an exceptional discovery is very rare because there were no direct descendants and nobody knew the existence of this work,” auctioneer Myrtille Dumonteil told Efe.

The book will be auctioned on November 22 at the renowned Drouot house for an estimated price of between 60,000 and 80,000 euros due to its perfect state and the originality of the first edition, with only 1,300 copies in circulation.

Baudelaire’s poems The Jewels, Leteo, To One Who Is Too Cheerful, Lesbos, Condemned Women and The Vampire were censored and excluded from later editions after a court deemed them offensive and injurious to public morals.

The court also ordered the French poet to pay a fine of 300 francs and another 100 francs to the two publishers.

However, censorship made Baudelaire stronger.

In the middle of the judicial battle, when the author was repudiated and branded as obscene and crazy, he started writing 35 new poems to replace the censored ones in the second edition, published in 1861.

The additions continued until 1866, when Baudelaire became ill, and the current version of the book includes more than 150 poems.

Dumonteil estimates that future versions of The Flowers of Evil won’t be modified since the verses that have been now revealed were never included in later editions that Baudelaire validated in life.

The four verses seem to be an author’s proposal and the book includes a friendly dedication to the journalist and literary critic Gaston de Saint-Valry.

Dumonteil said that it was De Saint-Valry himself who delivered the book as a gift to an anonymous Parisian, who died without direct heirs and never recorded the possession.

However, the revealed stanza wasn’t entirely unknown to experts.

“We think it was consulted in 1928 by the great Baudelaire specialist Yves-Gérard Le Dantec who was able to see it but wasn’t authorized to announce the unpublished stanza. We have an email from Le Dantec to the book owner where he says he is shocked for not having received the authorization,” Dumonteil said.

In the letter, Le Dantec implores the owner to change her mind due to the importance that any note or letter from Baudelaire could have, but he failed to convince her.

“She wanted to keep the treasure for herself,” Dumonteil added. (November 16, 2019, EFE/Practica Español)

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Lee la noticia y responde a las preguntas (Read the news and answer the questions)

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Question 1
Principalmente, el texto habla... (Mainly, the text talks about...)
A
de una estrofa que ha sido descubierta en una primera edición de "Las flores del mal" de Baudelaire.
B
del número de ejemplares que fueron impresos en la primera edición de "Las flores del mal" de Baudelaire.
C
de por qué algunos poemas de Baudelaire fueron censurados.
Question 2
En el texto se dice que... (It's said in the text that...)
A
el propio Baudelaire fue quien escribió esa estrofa en esa primera de edición de "Las flores del mal".
B
se desmiente que el propio Baudelaire haya escrito esa estrofa en esa primera edición de "Las flores del mal".
C
Lhermite descarta que la caligrafía de esa estrofa sea la de Baudelaire.
Question 3
Según el texto... (According to the text...)
A
el propietario de esa primera edición de "Las flores del mal" decidió donarlo a una institución para que la estudie.
B
esta primera edición de "Las flores del mal" fue subastada por poco más de 60.000 euros en Francia.
C
esta primera edición de "Las flores del mal" será subastada en unos días.
Question 4
Sobre Baudelaire se dice que... (About Baudelaire, it's said that...)
A
jamás tuvo que pagar una multa por haber escrito unos poemas que fueron censurados.
B
fue censurado en su época ya que se consideraba que algunos de sus poemas "atentaban" contra la moral.
C
es poco probable que haya ido a los tribunales a causa de unos poemas que fueron censurados.
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