This book of linked essays contains the first critical study of Baudelaire's development as a poet, from his youth onwards. It also includes studies of the development of Baudelaire's aesthetic, detailed commentaries on a number of his finest poems, and accounts of three intriguing and crucial 'encounters' with notable contemporaries. Of the essays, three are previously unpublished and four appeared as recently as 1988; the others have been thoroughly updated, revised and in some cases substantially expanded to take full account of recent scholarship. Summaries in English are provided for the seven essays in French, and vice versa. Together, the essays in this volume constitute a new and important contribution to the understanding and appreciation of Baudelaire's work.