A une courtisane : poème inédit de Charles Baudelaire

Year: 1925

Author: Pascal Pia (1903 - 1979)

Artist: Pedro Creixams (1893 - 1965)

Publisher: J. Fort, éditeur

A une courtisane, title page

The author of this book is not Baudelaire, but Pascal Pia, which was the pseudonym of Pierre Durand's. He was a literary loner who took pleasure in deceptive practices. He would write reviews of books that didn't exist or couldn't be found- and he hid behind a range of pseudonyms: Marcella La Plompe, Leger Alype, Pascal Rose or Pascal Pia. He often wrote poems in the style of for instance Apollinaire, Rimbaud or Baudelaire, which was a convenient way of publishing racy literature. Pia was an expert on this specific subject. He wrote a bibliography of the collection of erotica in the Bibliothèque nationale de France: Les livres de l'enfer (1978).

Naked prostitute

These deluxe booklets were received warmly by bibliophile collectors. Pia attributed À une courtisane to Baudelaire, with whose work he was very familiar, and about whom he published a standard book: Baudelaire par lui-même (1952). Spanish artist and illustrator Pico Pere Pedro Creixams produced eight engravings in which the naked courtesan is pictured as temptress, muse and mother: exotic women, dancing, dressed only in long stockings.

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) published Les fleurs du mal in 1857. Both the author and the publisher were prosecuted and convicted for obscenity and blasphemy. Six poems had to be deleted, after which Les fleurs du mal could appear once again, including a new poem 'To the reader' ('Au lecteur'), in which the author makes the reader his accomplice: 'Hypocrite reader, -my equal, - my brother!' Although Les fleurs du mal seemed inaccessible to the public, the collection developed into a classic with the passing of time: the beginning of modern poetry and the modern sense of life.

According to Baudelaire, love signified the end of innocence: 'faire l'amour, c'est faire le mal'. He had relations with women who made their living with the act of love, like prostitute Jeanne Duvall. Pia's choice of Baudelaire as the alleged author of a poem about the body of a courtesan is therefore not so far-fetched. In order to complete this sense of mystification, he wrote an eloquent introduction to it.

Bibliographical description

Description: À une courtisane: poème inédit de Charles Baudelaire / publ. d'après le manuscrit orig. et orné de 8 eaux-fortes par Creixams ; [notes en marge par Pascal Pia]. - Paris : J. Fort, éditeur, 1925. - [16] p., [14] bl. pl. : ill. ; 27 cm

Printer: Cyrille Simille (Courbevoie, Seine) Paul Marny (Paris)

Edition: 541 copies

This copy: Number 46 of 490 on Dutch van Gelder

Note: Mystification: the author is Pascal Pia

Bibliography: Monod 1182

Shelfmark: KW Koopm A 114


  • Jean-Baptiste Baronian, 'Pascal Pia, le clandestin', in: Magazine litteraire (1999), 375, p.8
  • Roger Grenier, Pascal Pia ou Le droitaunéant. Paris, Gallimard, 1989
  • Pascal Pia, 'Baudelaire, critique d'art', in: L'oeil 15 (1956), p. 6