An Analysis of Paris Spleen
Charles Baudelaire who is regarded as one of the most important figures of modern art because of his writings about not only the poet but also the painter, and generally, the artist of modern life, is told by Marshall Berman as the one who did more than anyone in the nineteenth century to make the people of his century aware of themselves as moderns (Berman, 1982, 132). He tried to make sense of modern life and its influences on art and artist. His poems and writings which based on metropolitan life in modern Paris that was started to be established by Hausmann Renovation, are counted as the early products of modern aesthetics.
Charles Baudelaire’s book Paris Spleen consists of 51 short prose poems which had published in Parisian newspapers and as a book it was published after Baudelaire’s death in 1869. These prose poems have been seen and analyzed as a part of Baudelaire’s poetics; but the book has another aspect than reflecting Baudelaire’s poem that is shedding light on Parisian modern life. Although he did not make any attempt at trying to reform society in Paris, poems like ‘Eyes of the Poor’ his feelings of despair and class guilt are obvious. His spleen is originated from these feelings or at least these feelings constitutes important cause of his spleen. In order to understand Paris Spleen properly, we should examine Baudelaire and the modern Paris.
Firstly, I will try to examine Charles Baudelaire in the light of Marshall Berman’s and Walter Benjamin’s works on Baudelaire. After I will tell about Hausmann Renovation which shaped modern life in Paris with new boulevards, cafes, streets and museums. Paris Spleen bears the stamp of the transformation of Paris which headed by Baron Hausmann and Napoleon III. The most of the poems in the book take place in the modern Paris and include modern encounters with the inhabitants of the city and Baudelaire’s impressions on the city as a flaneur who observes the city with the eyes of an artist. Encounters among different classes become more possible after the Hausmann Renovation and Baudelaire’s impressions are marked by this renovation and tells the story of the changing city. Finally, I will analyze several passages of the Paris Spleen in order to capture clues about modern daily life in Paris and Baudelaire’s impressions on it.
Charles Baudelaire: A Poet in the Streets
Paris Spleen is not the only work of Baudelaire which expresses the changing definition of beauty in modern and industrialized Paris. Actually, since his first book ‘Flowers of Evil’ he tries to capture ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis. Even, there is a chapter named ‘Parisian Scenes’ in Flowers of Evil which consists of poems that deals with the feelings of anonymity and alienation from a newly modernized city with the heroes such as beggars, workers, gamblers and prostitutes. These poems reflect the effects of Hausmann renovation which make excluded parts of the society visible. He...