Baudelaire notes and quotes

947 mots 4 pages
To what extent do you consider Baudelaire in Les Fleurs du mal to be the poet of anti-Nature?

Background; idea of what is meant by the term 'anti-nature'

The Decadent Movement

This refers to a group of writers in the second half of the nineteenth century who initiated the Symbolist movement in literature and the arts. The decadent spirit was marked by pessimism and mysticism, and the Decadents, whether writers or painters, considered Art a religion, with the birth of the famous theory 'Art for Art's sake'. Decadence emphasised Idealism, and rejected and fought against the Naturalism of Emile Zola and Gustave Courbet, and the philosophical concept of Positivism. It is regarded as a transition between Romanticism and Modernism.

Baudelaire is considered to be the initiator of the decadent spirit. While his style places him among the Romantics, the themes of death, religion, pessimism and suggestive eroticism in Les Fleurs du mal are indicative of a move towards Symbolism and Modernism.

So to take a few steps back - in Rousseau we see a revulsion of the city and a celebration of nature as the antithesis of civilisation. The Romantics who followed him saw the achievements of civilisation but simultaneously loathed its unnatural, corrupting aspects. And by the mid-nineteenth century, Western culture was further removed from nature than ever, with the ever-growing bourgeois world of consumerism and industrialisation. It was from this that the decadents, like Baudelaire, emerged.

Anti-naturalism in Les Fleurs du mal

So as a writer in the Decadent movement, we can see that Baudelaire in Les Fleurs du mal often rejects the natural scene in preference of an artificial idealism.

Rêve Parisien, stanzas 5 – 6, p. 151 – 'cataractes pesantes, / comme des rideaux de cristal' – 'murailles de metal' – 'non d'arbres, mais de colonnades'

Describes landscape in terms of metal and precious stones – in his idealistic 'rêve' he sees waterfalls comparable to

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