I was recently asked about my favourite book.
Without much consideration or having a ready thought out answer; right there in my mind, the rare part of myself that I have figured out - along with my favourite food, my favourite city, my favourite eau de parfum…assertive and confident came my response; Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs Du Mal.
Later, as I was cycling back home, thinking my day through, reassessing, it crossed my mind that Les Fleurs Du Mal has been my favourite piece of literature for the last 20 odd years!
Something about that fact unsettled me.
When I was first introduced to Baudelaire two decades ago, I was in my late teens. I would not say that I went full on emo but I liked the idea of coming across a little melancholic maybe with a hint of the misunderstood. The book reflected that feeling beautifully and connected it with my idealism. In the poem The Albatross, the poet describes the gauche unsightly bird, cast away from the flock, a solitary outcast… See the connection, dear reader?
Fortunately, I gradually matured into adulthood and changed my attitudes, perceptions, and style. I was even comfortable enough to walk around with, dare I admit, a smile on my face. In addition, I read many more great novels from the grim but great Zola to the wonderful Candice Carty-Williams.
So where does that leave our dear Monsieur Baudelaire’s masterpiece?
Well, it will always be one of the building blocks of my adult persona but not quite the only one mirroring my self reflection.. In fact, every time I browse in a bookshop and allow my attention to hover over a curious title or a beautiful front cover, I am giving myself the chance and privilege of falling in love with a new favourite book. I get to spend few days or weeks connecting with the experiences depicted.
Books are promenades of the mind. Every page is a stroll that leads us to another view and another perspective.
Points of view evolve as life goes on. Choosing our opinion about something, whether in politics, art or love shouldn’t be confined to a commitment made in childhood!
Growth dictates change and I hope that change is progress…