Les Fleurs du Mal is generally considered to be Baudelaire's major work; a profoundly crafted, sensuous and, at the time it was published, scandalous collection of poetry that shocked the literary establishment. Yet, prior to this, Baudelaire's reputation was as a critic of art, music and literature. He brought to bear the same standards on the works of others as he applied to his own: that beauty of idea and style are paramount, that art is useful if its function is the pursuit of beauty and that a quality of strangeness and originality are what make a work of art unique. In this selection of criticism, Baudelaire's writings on the art of Delacroix, Ingres and Corot, the literature of Poe and Flaubert, and the music of Wagner, among others, illuminate not only those artists, but also the critic himself.
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A Fascinating Collection of Essays23 Sept. 2011
Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire, Esq.
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Contents of the Book:
Introduction 1. The Salon of 1845 [Extract] 2. The Salon of 1846 [Extract] 3. Of Virtuous Plays and Novels 4. The Universal Exhibition of 1855: the Fine Arts [Extract] 5. Of the Essence of Laughter, and generally of the Comic in the Plastic Arts 6. Edgar Allan Poe, his Life and Works 7. Further Notes of Edgar Poe 8. Some French Caricaturists 9. Some Foreign Caricaturists 10. MADAME BOVARY by Gustave Flaubert 11. Theophile Gautier 12. The Salon of 1859 [Extract] 13. Richard Wagner and TANNHAUSER in Paris 14. The Life and Work of Eugene Delacroix 15. The Painter of Modern Life
We think of Baudelaire primarily as a remarkable poet, but (like Poe) he was widely read and devoted to the Arts. P. E. Charvey's 26-page Introduction is superb, detailing aspects of Baudelaire's biography and the history of these essays. "The...article on Theophile Gautier shows Baudelaire as a persuasive advocate in a no more than moderately good cause, but the cause of a friend dedicated, as Baudelaire was himself, to art." I am especially grateful to see both of the poet's prefaces to Poe, and the editor spends much space in the Introduction on the correspondences and differences between the two poets. At times the editor himself waxes poetical:
"In one particular, Poe's ideal of beauty seems far removed from Baudelaire's. In spite of what Baudelaire claims for her in Poe's poetry, the latter's muse knows not passion, 'the excitement of the heart' as we mortals -- and Baudelaire himself -- understand it; wan, ethereal, she lives in a rarefied atmosphere; she will presently reappear in Pre-Raphaelite studios, inspire Rossetti, and sit for Burne-Jones."
The translations in this book seem especially good and the essays are of keen interest in themselves, with the added degree with which they illustrate the mind of Baudelaire. The selection is generous and well-balanced.
"In this selection of criticism, Baudelaire's writings on the art of Delacroix, Ingres and Corot, the literature of Poe and Flaubert, and the music of Wagner, among others, illuminate not only those artists, but also the critic himself."