1674378446 Charles Baudelaire From Despair to Hopelessness

Charles Baudelaire, From Despair to Hopelessness

With the publication of The Flowers of Evil (Les fleurs du mal) in 1857, Charles Baudelaire was forever bound to this book in which, after hesitations, corrections, uncertainties and torments, he poured the poems of his life. Publication did not end his torment, as Second Empire France confiscated the edition for offending public morals. Augmented with new poems, though also removing the forbidden ones, the 1861 reprint altered its highly elaborate architecture (despite the fact that the poet drew up the plan for the book when he had already erected the building). Contrary to industrialism and the religion of the useful, Baudelaire appears as a dandy who, immersed in the Parisian crowd, sacrifices his life on the altar of uninterrupted genius, like one who lives and sleeps in front of a mirror. It was especially so after the February Revolution of 1848, when the dandy, already disillusioned with what was left, took to the barricades before retiring to his ivory tower.

Faced with such an intriguing statue, there will be those who will dismiss these secondary writings, which summarize but are not limited to offering some keys to interpreting The Flowers of Evil or the poetry without meter or rhyme in The Spleen of his work on aesthetics Paris (Le Spleen de Paris), collected posthumously as Petits poèmes en prose. Although they also fulfill this task, these pages are a culmination of the artistic criticism of their century, as in the self-analysis of a soul that wants to redeem itself, My naked heart (Mon coeur mis à nu), where he throws one more hook Beyond the grave

It is surprising that the visionary, fond of wine and hashish, accepted by Verlaine into the sect of damned poets, understands that damnation is an idea of ​​the good bourgeois who must specify the model of classical disorder, even if the Aristocrats of thought otherwise believe that “spiritual things hoard”; among them the Symbolists, whose prestige is greatly diminished if predecessors like Baudelaire, whom they made a retrospective Symbolist, are dispensed with. But the poet was already pointing out, revisiting the ancient-modern dispute over the advance of art, that “the man capable of revelation seldom has a forerunner” and dies without children to inherit it . Humbled by his misalignment with the world, Baudelaire pursues a transreality beyond the obvious. Therefore he despises the deceptive accuracy of sculpture and glorifies the mysterious lie of painting, which always transcends its frame.

The clarity and sharpness of his judgments are not jokes, but correspond to a congruent and self-contained aesthetic, albeit fragmentarily exposed. His territory, compared to that of Sainte-Beuve, is that of his contemporaries, many of whom are still alive before climbing their academic pedestals. Among so many authors confused with the landscape, few are the basis on which he builds his personality: above all, the fruit of a diabolical providence that never neglects his chosen ones, Edgar A. Poe, whose translation has kept him well occupied Part of his life for which he had to resolve all the difficulties that stood between him and this unfortunate soul in whom he recognized himself immediately and who pushed him to be who he was.

Baudelaire knew that the heaviest floods required levees to activate

There are other intriguing portrayals, such as that of Delacroix, whose devotion to a job without reward is like that of a man rowing aimlessly, stubbornly going about his work blindly and uncaring for the approval of others: “Too frequent handshaking degrades the character” . Also that of his strict contemporary Flaubert and of course that of his revered Gautier, to whom he dedicated The Flowers of Evil. Although she does not share his idea of ​​art for art’s sake, she agrees with him in rejecting inspiration and the mysticism of the work and, if necessary, submitting to classical patterns: stanzas, caesuras, rhymes. After all, Baudelaire knew that the most violent spills require dams to activate (but the reader, or at least this undersigned, does not quite understand his awe at this blunder of verbal cameos who is Gautier: either they are whims of genius or they exist something we miss).

Publisher Hetzel defined it as “that odd classic among things not classic”. Rimbaud himself, the Puer Senex, who worshiped him like a god, made this classic ugly because it was petty and wingless. And it is that this enemy of Romanticism, suspicious of the elegiac tears, inherited from the Romantics the consciousness of exclusion but subjected it to the paradigm of forms, as Leopardi had done a few years earlier, opening the doors to a Romanticism he hated, poisoned by the Graeco-Roman classics he had learned about in his library at Recanati. The bitter leopard-like Noia (boredom, boredom) led to Baudelaire’s spleen, which makes him mistake the longed-for heaven for “the lid of a pot”. Noia and Spleen are not the product of romantic despair, which in its intolerableness heralds revolutionary and perhaps redemptive outbursts, but of modern despair, which heralds only adjustment to failure.

The volume that preserves this treasure is introduced by Giovanni Macchia and translated by José Ramón Monreal. This is also due to the annotations that clarify many corners of these scriptures, which are much more than a courtyard in which satanic flowers grow.

cover of the book

Author: Charles Baudelaire.

Selection, translation and notes: Jose Ramon Monreal.

Foreword: Giovanni Machia.

Editorial staff: Cliff, 2022.

Format: Hardcover (1,040 pages. 49 euros).

Follow BABELIA on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.

Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits