Baudelaire

Claude Pichois, Author, Graham Robb, Translator H. Hamilton $24.95 (430p) ISBN 978-0-241-12458-1
His life marked by debt, syphilis, alcohol, opium, mistresses and cheap hotels, French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) exemplifies the figure of the modern artist as a rebel against bourgeois society. This careful, exhaustively researched biography lacks verve and is nearly devoid of literary criticism, but as a record of the poet's day-to-day existence it will prove valuable to scholars. Professor at the Sorbonne and at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, Pichois suggests that Baudelaire made himself economically dependent on his mother in order to re-create his childhood and compete with his hated stepfather. We see Baudelaire as rebellious schoolboy, deliberately eccentric bohemian, anarchistic political journalist, unlucky collector of old paintings and, in a dramatic courtroom chapter, as convicted offender of public morality (fined for his now-classic Fleurs du Mal ). Snippets of poems, letters and essays, expertly woven into the narrative, lend moments of immediacy. Illustrated. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1990
Release date: 02/01/1990
Hardcover - 704 pages - 978-2-260-00453-0
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