The Centennial Celebration of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs Du Mal

The Centennial Celebration of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs Du Mal

The Centennial Celebration of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs Du Mal

The Centennial Celebration of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs Du Mal

Excerpt

Henri Peyremore and more in this second half of our century, American culture is becoming the worthiest inheritor of what is undying in the thought and the art of Europe, and even of other continents. It does not passively and with a sense of awe, as once was the case, gaze at what earlier ages have transmitted to it. It sifts that rich legacy, reinterprets what still holds validity, assimilates and revitalizes, in order to hand it down in its turn to future generations, the best which was once imagined and expressed.

In the realm of French literature, Americans in the last few decades appear to have been drawn with especial seduction to poetry. Racine, Mallarmé, even Nerval and Valéry count many devotees, not only among scholars, but among students of French in college and the general public. It is a sign of the times and an evidence of the interpenetration of cultures of which we may be proud. T. S. Eliot, in his recent collection of critical essays, On Poetry and Poets (1957), remarks that "it is easier to think in a foreign language than it is to feel in it. Therefore no art is more stubbornly national than poetry." But the art which is most stubbornly national often happens to be the one most appreciated in other lands and the most universal. Keats, Yeats and Auden, George and Rilke, Rimbaud and St. John Perse, the great Spanish poets of today, have won more and truer friends for their culture, among foreigners, than many a prose-

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