"'There is a striking resemblance between the act of love and the ministrations of a torturer'"

This is a quote by Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), a hugely innovative and influential French poet.  He had a far darker perspective than the preceding Romantic poets, though he was influenced by them.  His focus on 'the city' was an important departure; he is also noted for his focus on the individual and explorations of human behaviour thought of as immoral or decadent.  He is most famous for his collection of poems, 'Les Fleurs du Mal' ('The Flowers of Evil'), published in 1857.  The unapologetic discussions of sexuality and death attracted much controversy, but also admiration from many of his contemporaries.  Baudelaire had travelled in his youth, making it as far as India, and the richness of foreign culture proved a great influence on his work.  He famously had a mixed race mistress, Jeanne Duvall, for twenty years; Angela Carter wrote a short story about her called 'Black Venus' (see below).   

Baudelaire also worked on some much admired translations of Edgar Allen Poe, and was a fierce defender of many modern artists such as Édouard Manet and Eugène Delacroix, as well as the composer Richard Wagner.  Prone to bouts of extreme melancholy and indolence, drug taking and debt, Baudelaire died aged only 46 of syphilis.  Buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse (in good company); he was survived by his beloved mother.  Despite an output far less prolific than other poets, his influence and legacy were huge.  Younger writers often paid tribute to him, and he is considered an instigator of both the Symbolist and Modernist movements.  He has been referenced by such diverse people as T.S. Eliot (in 'The Wasteland') and the modern electro-band Goldfrapp (the song 'Ooh La La').



Angela Carter Black Venus