Auguste Poulet-Malassis

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Paul Emmanuel Auguste Poulet-Malassis
AugustePoulet-Malassis.jpg
Paul Emmanuel Auguste Poulet-Malassis
Born March 16, 1825
Alençon, France
Died February 11, 1878
Paris, France
Occupation Printer, Publisher
Nationality French
Period 1844–1875
Literary movement Symbolist, Modernist

Paul Emmanuel Auguste Poulet-Malassis (March 16, 1825 – February 11, 1878) was a French printer and publisher who lived and worked in Paris. He was also a long standing friend and the printer-publisher of Charles Baudelaire.

Biography[edit]

In his short six years of printing and publishing Auguste Poulet-Malassis released very few books, and with little gain financially. He seemed to have been more concerned with the aesthetics and the appeal to his close friends than - much to the despair of his partner and brother in law Eugène de Broise (fr) - the actual profits and finance. The books were always beautifully bound and printed on fine paper with illustrations.

Poulet-Malassis printed and published the works of Baudelaire famously, but also printed what would - at the time - have been safer, more acclaimed novelists, poets and critics. Which included the likes of Théodore Faullain de Banville, Théophile Gautier, Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve and Champfleury.

It sometimes seems as if he had printed his friends works - through acts of kindheartedness or even sympathy - when they had nowhere else to turn; this may have been the case with Baudelaire who struggled to make a living almost all of his adult life.

Together with Baudelaire they worked themselves further and further into debt until Poulet-Malassis was imprisoned for unpaid debts in November 1862; This debt would have been no problem, if it were not for the scarcity of sales, probably due to little or no advertising. It could not have helped being involved with the scandal and outrage which Les Fleurs du mal generated. He printed the first number of editions and the book of Baudelaire's poems was subsequently banned - after a pigheaded and uncharitable court case - for obscenities.

First edition of Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire (Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857). Inscribed to Nadar (Félix Tournachon), pioneer photographer, writer, and caricaturist, and one of Baudelaire's very small inner circle of friends. Binding by Charles Meunier.

Also, at the instigation of Baudelaire, the company opened a ground floor shop in the centre of Paris, in the Passage Mires. The shop was laid out beautifully with oak shelves, no expense was spared but Poulet-Malassis seemed to have treated the building as a literary club house where he would talk with his friends for hours on end. He never was famous for his business sense, the shop never did make a profit and was just another negative in the buildup to his downfall.