Baudelaire was an intrepid city dweller and an extraordinary poet, whose writing is immersed in the experience of living in a nineteenth-century capital. But not any capital. He was a witness to Baron Georges Haussmann’s transformations of Paris, that far-reaching, beautiful and immensely destructive example of modern urban renewal, trenchantly analyzed by Bernard Marchand. In his youth an enthusiast for the doctrines of the socialist and anarchist Pierre Proudhon, Baudelaire was a participant in the February and June uprisings of the revolution of 1848. That revolution gave rise to the short-lived Second Republic (1848-51), itself brought to a violent end by the coup d’état of Napoléon I’s nephew, Louis Bonaparte, in December 1851, followed by the proclamation a year later of the Second Empire, with Bonaparte now Napoléon III. A simplistic view of Baudelaire as thereafter politically reactionary has been supplanted by a nuanced sense of his enduring oppositional tendencies, in an extensive scholarly literature summarized by Richard Burton. I will return to these debates in discussing one of Baudelaire’s most controversial prose poems, “Assommons les Pauvres!” (“Let’s Beat Up the Poor!”). For the moment it should also be recalled that due to his financial indebtedness and in part his conflicts with his detested stepfather, Generallater Ambassador-Jacques Aupick, Baudelaire lived his adult life in poverty, avoiding his creditors by changing addresses so often as to seem a prefiguration of Louis Wirth’s rootless city dweller. Hence his knowledge of, and writing about, solitude, suffering and class conflict in the lonely rooms, poor neighborhoods and monumental expanses of the capital. It can also not be forgotten that he was a victim of the oppressive successor of 1848 and the Second Republic, Napoléon III’s Second Empire. For Les Fleurs du mal, particularly its erotic poetry, caused him to be put on trial, convicted, censored and fined in 1857. That poetry continues to provoke condemnation of him as sexist and racist, especially regarding his long and tortured relationship with the mulatto woman Jeanne Duval.