The life of Charles Baudelaire does not fall exactly within the period when modern style dominated in art. Living between 1831 and 1867 Baudelaire caught only the rise of modernist tendencies in literature, and it can be observed that he played an important role in the development of modern style. His writings, which were pretty scandalous for the time obviously bear features of modern style. This paper aims to demonstrate how Baudelaire’ rhymes are related to modernism, using his poem “Carrion” as an example.
The distinctive features of modernist art are its symbolic nature, profound personal approach and fancy forms of outside reflection, which can sometimes be even shocking. Logical ties inside the artwork are unevident and every person is allowed to form own original opinion about it. An artwork often represents a sort of transcendent form, and it often does not really mean that, what it appears to be at first sight. Combined with sharp contrasts this forms the identity of modern style .
Applying the described principled to Baudelaire’s verse it is firstly necessary to turn to symbolism. The poet actually described a rather disgusting thing – a corpse of an animal rotting near the road. That what was a taboo for artists of previous epoch and would never be aesthetic for them is described by Baudelaire with some sickly passion: The flies swarmed on the vulva, where The hordes of blackness writhed The maggots like a river, on Those rags that seemed to live.
But this caused him to start thinking of beauty and its fate and even compare his sweetheart to this rotting body: And even you will come to this, This horrible infection This is a perfect example of shocking expression of the artistic idea and unobvious ties, for further Baudelaire relates the dead body to the idea or eternal beauty, which will forever live in a spiritual world: So tell them! Tell the worms for me, The ones who’ll kiss and eat
That I have kept your faith divine, My decomposing sweet! Actually the idea, that bodily beauty is temporary and spiritual beauty surpasses the bodily one is not new. Baudelaire’s merit is not in the invention of idea, but in finding new forms for its expression. Perhaps the readers would be “getting sleepy from the corpse’s rank perfume” like a woman in the poem, after all, as in any modernist artwork, the reader is allowed to form a personal opinion.
The poem is exclusively author’s view of the world which a reader can get acquainted with. Such withdrawal from universalism in art and providing insights into own ideas is one of the key elements of modern art. Works cited: 1. Bradbury, Malcolm, & James McFarlane (eds. ), Modernism: A Guide to European Literature 1890–1930 Penguin, “Penguin Literary Criticism” series, 1978 2. Charles Baudelaire. Carrion. Translated by C. S. Thompson. Available at: http://www. noctiviganti. com/books_flowers_carrion. html
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