Auguste Poulet-Malassis

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Paul Emmanuel Auguste Poulet-Malassis
Paul Emmanuel Auguste Poulet-Malassis
Paul Emmanuel Auguste Poulet-Malassis
BornMarch 16, 1825
Alençon, France
DiedFebruary 11, 1878
Paris, France
OccupationPrinter, Publisher
Literary movementSymbolist, 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 a longstanding friend and the printer-publisher of Charles Baudelaire.


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

Poulet-Malassis famously printed and published the works of Baudelaire, but also printed works that would have been safer, by more acclaimed novelists, poets and critics. These included 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.

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.

He and Baudelaire worked themselves further and further into debt until Poulet-Malassis was imprisoned for unpaid debts in November 1862. This debt would have been less of a 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.

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, and 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.

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