An Atmospherics of the CityBaudelaire and the Poetics of Noise

An Atmospherics of the CityBaudelaire and the Poetics of Noise

Ross Chambers

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780823265848

Publisher: Fordham University Press


An Atmospherics of the City traces Baudelaire’s evolution from an aesthetics of fetishizing, in which the function of poetry is to produce beauty out of the ordinary by means of the poet’s artifice, to a poetics of allegory that reads the modern city’s atmospherics as a product of urban noise and as a function, therefore, of what today would be recognized as entropy. In this later stage, the function of the poetic becomes one of disalienation; it strives to awaken readers to the presence of Evil as a malevolent force that is responsible for the depredations of human history over time. This evolution, in which poetic practice is redefined for the modern age as one of bearing witness to that which is most alien to (and destructive of) the poetic, is traced through readings of verse poems drawn principally from the “Tableaux Parisiens” section of the Fleurs du Mal (in that volume’s second edition of 1861), and of prose poems from the posthumously published Le Spleen de Paris, defined here as a poet’s “urban diary” and understood as a manifestation of temporality in its very absence of structure. Motifs such as the pane of glass and the statue are traced as their significance evolves from a very early poem (“Je n’ai pas oublié”) through later poems in both verse and prose.

Table of Contents

Part I Fetish and the Everyday

Part II Allegory, History, and the Weather of Time

Part III Ironic Atmospherics and the Urban Diary

End Matter