By Dudley M. Marchi
This booklet complements our realizing of France and the us by way of concentrating on their intercultural relatives. Baudelaire and Emerson have on the center in their pondering the very inspiration of the way to reconcile person and collective adventure, a topic that's pervasive in French-American family members. A old standpoint to modern concerns in regards to the French-American connection is helping us to come back to phrases with a number of the urgent difficulties at the moment dealing with France and the us and to view a few key literary texts in a brand new mild.
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Extra info for Baudelaire, Emerson, and the French-American Connection: Contrary Affinities (Currents in Comparative Romance Languages and Literatures)
At the time, Baudelaire was eagerly trying to meet as many Americans visiting or residing in Paris as he could, in order to gather information about Poe while he worked on his translations of Poe’s Tales. Although Emerson, during a visit to Paris, was invited to the home of Tocqueville and met Michelet and other faculty at the Collège de France, Baudelaire, for whatever reasons, did not meet him. Most likely, Baudelaire did not know that Emerson was in Paris, for he surely would have sought him out.
Baudelaire placed the effects of the shock experience at the center of his work, and this action rendered problematic his ability to achieve an unequivocal subjective understanding of objective reality. At the heart of this shock experience is the dynamic role of the stroller, the “flâneur” (Illuminations, 172), who experiences the urban crowds much the same way the factory worker experiences the machine, hence Benjamin’s analogy between the industrial machine and the social machine. The smooth functioning of the social machine blunts one’s sense of individuality and the feeling of being dependent on others, thus leading to a sense of increased isolation among urban inhabitants.
In a sense, Baudelaire emerges as an admirer of American art: he represents the new impulse that has characterized such a wide variety of high and popular Western culture for over a century. Always on the go, domestically mobile, constantly setting up money-making ventures, he is the epitome of restlessness and exuberance, in contrast to Emerson’s calm, informed embrace of world cultures and gradual political evolution. Emerson, also involved in the difficult social issues of his time and suffering through numerous family tragedies, succeeded in raising himself above it all.