CHARLES BAUDELAIRE, French poet (d. 1867); born to a bourgeois family, the author of Les Fleurs du Mal for a while lived the modish life of a literary dandy on an inheritance from his father, reluctantly joining the Paris bohème when his fortune ran dry. His character, as we view him from the 20th century, is perverse and fascinating. Critics see in him a conflict of many opposites: he was both a Catholic and a satanist, debauchee and mystic, cynical sensualist and yearner for purity. Unable to excel in virtue, he made himself a legend of vice. He was probably homosexual, or at least Marcel Proust thought so, as did Andre Gide, Roger Peyrefitte, and many others. The floppy cravat Baudelaire affected became all the rage of European dandies during the first decades of the 20th century, Gays having adopted him as their very own at an early date.