Baudelaire, Emerson, and the French-American Connection: by Dudley M. Marchi

By Dudley M. Marchi

This publication complements our knowing of France and the U.S. by means of concentrating on their intercultural kinfolk. Baudelaire and Emerson have on the center in their considering the very thought of ways to reconcile person and collective event, a topic that's pervasive in French-American family. A historic standpoint to modern matters in regards to the French-American connection is helping us to return to phrases with a number of the urgent difficulties presently dealing with France and the U.S. and to view a few key literary texts in a brand new mild.

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Additional info for Baudelaire, Emerson, and the French-American Connection: Contrary Affinities (Currents in Comparative Romance Languages and Literatures)

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It is only in this culture that cultural activities and objects gain that value which elevates them above the everyday sphere. Their reception becomes an act of celebration and exaltation. ” Emerson’s project was never one of a sentimental humanism; his social ontology was reciprocal, yet he was adamant in his formulations of the correct balance between subjectivity and objectivity. The successful citizen was the person “whose inward and outward senses are truly adjusted to each other” (“Nature,” I, 9).

Emerson claimed, in one of his last London lectures, “Politics and Socialism”: In this age of mutations, every little while people become alarmed at the masses in society & expect a revolution. There will be no revolution until there are revolutionists” (Letters, IV, 75). Emerson’s definition of “revolutionists,” as put forth in “The American Scholar,” were inspired individuals whose right actions would regenerate the collective political body. He also claimed, in a letter of 1848: “Forever we must say, the hope of the world depends on private independence and sanctity” (Letters, IV, 75).

Like Baudelaire, Emerson’s transcendental symbolism strove to achieve a cohesive vision of a coherent world that linked the earthly to the spiritual, and this was best achieved through a meditative communing with nature, as accomplished in “Each and All”—“Again I saw, / again I heard, / The rolling river, / the morning bird; / Beauty through my sense stole; / I yielded myself to the perfect whole” (Hollander, 236). Emerson’s poetry thus produces Baudelaire’s transcendental “correspondences” and experiences the world as one of infinite harmony as filtered through expansive poetic sensibility, thus having “l’expansion des choses infinies” and transporting us mind, body, and spirit: “qui chantent les transports de l’esprit et des sens” (I, 11).

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