Charles Baudelaire essay
French poet. B.’s poetic activity coincided with the heyday of the French literature of romantic and Parnassian movements. After the storm of the French revolution and the epic of the Napoleonic wars in France, a bourgeois order was established that failed to fulfill not only the aspirations of the broad masses of the people, but also the aspirations of the middle classes, that petty bourgeoisie, which gave the greatest number of artists in general and in particular writers and poets. Deep disappointment swept through the minds. On the one hand, the result of such disappointment was disbelief in the old principles of reason, which should enlighten and correct the world. The views of the encyclopedists were buried, and in their place there was an opposite cult of passions, irrational or mystical moods. There was no hope of a political exit from the vale of sorrow on the path of radical social reform. On the basis of deep pessimism, which gripped the best minds, a huge, not only English, but also the world phenomenon of byronism grew up, disappointment with a strong admixture of revolutionary fermentation.
However, other features were also characteristic of romanticism. Simultaneously with Byron (see), the less powerful, but still master of the minds was Chateaubriand (see), who, although he was the same disappointment with many features very similar to Byronism, but with a large admixture of aesthetic Christianity and reactionary noble ideology.
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The intermediate position was occupied by artists, who wanted to go into their art in the game of imagination, flights of fantasy, and in enjoying their craft to find life content.
If the chapter is so-called. “Parnassus”, who advanced this purely formal attitude to poetry, Leconte de Lille (see), was at the same time a deep thinker and one of the most pronounced pessimists of his age, while others did not climb so deeply and only sought to create “enamels and cameos “[the name of the collection of poems by Theophile Gauthier (see)] with quirkiness and clear juiciness of the word.
The son of his time, B., was likewise filled with disappointment and indifference to the ideas of progress; he was skeptical or even hypochondriacal to the surrounding life. At the same time, he loved the verbal skill, musical and jewelry accuracy of expression as a means of transferring his sorrows and sufferings into works of art and thereby at least somewhat quench them. B. however, stands out sharply from other poets of that time with a certain inclination towards extreme sophistication and even perversion.
Individually, this was explained in B. of course by his illness. He came from a hereditarily manic family. The hereditary predisposition and the conditions in which he lived led him also to drug abuse. Bored, dismissive of his unsatisfying reality, B. is looking for unheard of entertainment, something completely new and finds this not only some satisfaction: he is proud of his moral and aesthetic dendism. To be dissimilar to others, to be cautiously respected as a “satanic poet,” was the pose chosen by the French poet, due to his character and social conditions.
But the poet is not only a person: he is primarily a social figure. Each time, he chooses one or another personality for his full expression and highlights either more or less healthy or sick natures. There was so much boredom in the then French society, so much contempt for life, and at the same time so much need to overcome their suffering by transforming them into artistic forms, to “sublimate” the suffering, that such a person as B., with great talent, could be a very vivid representative this branch of the then social well-being and its spokesman in literature.
However, in the middle of the last century, the bourgeoisie had not yet so outlived its vital resources that Baudelaire, the first decadent (decadent), was immediately understood by the surrounding society. Only the most sophisticated connoisseurs worshiped him.
A large audience at first passed him. Only later, when decadence, that is, aestheticism with the ideas of death, sin, illness, debauchery, became the main motive of poetry, B. was declared a great predecessor and even the founder of decadent symbolism.
It should also be noted that in the era of 1848, when a strong revolutionary convulsion shocked the bourgeois world, Baudelaire woke up, as it were. By this time belong his works – “Twilight”, “Dawn” and “Feast of the rag”. Democratic and slightly revolutionary notes began to appear in B.’s poetry, but they soon died out in even more gloomy disappointment.
B.’s personal life was terrible. His love – the mulatto Duval, was an unscrupulous drunkard who tormented the poet. His small fortune was completely eaten. By the end of his life, B. was almost a beggar. He died, paralyzed and forgotten.
His main work is “Flowers of Evil” (Les fleurs du mal, 1857; there are Russian translations of Yakubovich-Melshin and Ellis; many other poets also translated it: Sologub, Vyacheslav Ivanov, etc.). “Flowers of Evil” is the quintessence of those moods about which we spoke above. A contemporary of the Parnassians, who demanded extraordinary filigree of the poetic form, firmness of structure, economy in words, strict rhythm and choice of images and deep correspondence of expressions to them, B. not only obeyed all these conditions, but turned out to be one of the largest masters of such a classical form in its own way. verse. B. belongs to the breed of sculptor poets. He carves or forges his poems. His works are solid, every word definitely stands in its place. The skill here is courageous. Since the content usually expresses ideas close to despair or half-madness, dirt or baseness of a deep fall, moral and physical, it would seem that this content is in sharp contradiction with the form. Actually this is not. Like Leconte de Lily, B. such a combination of content with form gives the impression of restraining himself, the full dignity of stating the horror of life.
Before us is a poet who knows that life is darkness and pain, that it is complex, full of abyss. He does not see a ray of light in front of him, he does not know the way out. But he did not despair from this, did not get upset, on the contrary, he seemed to squeeze his heart with his hands. He tries to maintain some kind of high calmness in everything, seeks as an artist to dominate others. He is not crying. He sings a courageous and bitter song precisely because he does not want to cry. Later, poets of this decadent type completely lost such a balance and such a severe faceted form.
In addition, Baudelaire wrote Little Poems in Prose (Russian translation of Alexandrovich, M., 1902, and Ellis, 1910), a diary entitled Naked Heart (Russian translation of Ellis, M., 1907). He also owns a series of articles on fine art, in which he showed himself to be a man of amazingly delicate and faithful taste and a great master of words in the field of criticism, and an exemplary translation of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe (see), which had a tremendous influence on French literature. At the height of decadent symbolism in France, B. was raised to the shield and proclaimed almost the greatest poet in France. Now this delight has largely subsided. But B., of course, will forever remain an excellent exponent of that moment in the history of the French bourgeoisie and intelligentsia, when it lost all the power of its idealism, for the best part could not reconcile itself with the scarcity of bourgeois prospects, fell into despair, mixed with a dream, but still showed some reflections of the revolutionary upsurge of energy and took its sad fate, at least in the face of its poets, not without a certain greatness. No wonder B. was still a contemporary of two revolutions and, as they say, in February fraternized with revolutionary workers. The Baudelaire cult of everything perverted, vicious and artificial, generated by the city, urban civilization, its aesthetics and immoralism – all this had an extremely significant impact on the Russian Symbolists. Trying to get away from reality into the world of dreams, our decadents of the “older generation” (Bryusov, Balmont, Sologub, Annensky, even earlier Merezhkovsky, Minsk) found excuse for their moods in the chased verses of “Flowers of Evil”, where contempt for life and nature, as to “weekdays” and “prose,” was elevated to principle, in the “pearl of creation.” B.’s individualism left its imprint on the Russian decadence of the first time – the cult of the proud, towering above the world “I”, who knew everything and was fed up with everything, did not recognize any moral standards, imperiously mixing good and evil.