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Extra info for Charles Baudelaire
The Baudelaire of 1844 may himself not have known where he wanted to go and what 52 he wanted to do, and may not yet have been possessed of that patience which is, as Buffon asserted, the larger part of genius, but the determination to prove himself in his mother’s eyes took on an impetus that, combined with his association with a group of young poets, led to a highly productive surge of creativity. In verses he addressed to their mutual friend Ernest Prarond, Gustave Le Vavasseur leaves us a rhymed impression of those years of Baudelaire’s close friendship and sturdy rivalry with other young poets.
Whatever the truth behind the suicide gesture, Baudelaire’s letters of the time suggest the physical difﬁculties and discomforts of his life: incessantly dunned by his creditors, constantly begging his mother and Ancelle for money, changing lodgings at short notice and at times unable to go outside; either because he feared meeting the police or because he didn’t have enough clean linen. These experiences leave an unmistakable mark on such prose poems as ‘The Double Room’ with its depiction of ‘dusty, chipped furniture’, ‘its ﬁreplace bereft of ﬂame and embers’, its sad windows down which ‘rain has drawn furrows in the dust’, its ‘manuscripts, scratched through and incomplete’, its ‘almanac on which the pencil has marked the sinister dates’ (oc, i, p.
Nevertheless, Baudelaire would take up this poem again much later and rework it for the prose poem ‘The Cake’ where the emotions of the adolescent observer are now overshadowed by the adult’s inescapable irony, youth’s happy anticipations shrinking into the mere memory of experience. I was travelling. The landscape in which I found myself was of irresistible nobility and grandeur. No doubt something of it passed at that moment into my soul. My thoughts ﬂuttered about, as light as the atmosphere.