Literature and Psychoanalysis

By Edith Kurzweil; William Phillips | Go to book overview

Notes
1.
Charles Baudelaire, Oeuvres completès, edited by Y.-G. Le Dantec and Claude Pichois( Paris: Pléiade, 1961), p. 1247. All quotations from Baudelaire will be from this edition, and page references will be given in the text. All prose translations are my own.
2.
Michel Butor, Histoire extraordinaire, essal sur un rêve de Baudelaire ( Paris: Gallimard, 1961), pp. 40-42.
3.
Speaking of the same passage, Sartre writes: "it is clear that dandyism represents a higher ideal than poetry"; it is Baudelaire's "sterile wish" for something beyond poetry ( Jean-Paul Sartre, Baudelaire [ Paris: Gallimard, 1947], pp. 183, 196).
4.
Baudelaire's attitude toward the artist's dual sexuality is not always negative. In Les Paradis artificiels, he speaks of "a delicate skin, a distinguished accent, a kind of androgynous quality" acquired by men raised principally by women ("L'homme qui, dès le commencement, a été longtemps baigné dans la molle atmosphère de la femme"). Without these qualities, "the roughest and most virile genius remains, as far as artistic perfection is concerned, an incomplete being" (444-45). Butor sees the mundus muliebris as the "necessary theater" in which the artist, by an act of will, conquers his virility -- and his artistic powers. The devirilized male artist who desires women is, as Butor nicely concludes, a lesbian, and lesbians for Baudelaire are "the very symbol of the apprentice poet, of the poet who has not yet published" ( Histoire extraordinaire, pp. 79, 85-86).

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