By Patricia Clements
This examine of Baudelaire and English modernism observes his protean effect on poets from Swinburne, who wrote the 1st English evaluate of Les Fleurs du Mai, to T. S. Eliot. Documenting Baudelaire's impression on Swinburne, Pater, Wilde, Arthur Symons, Aldous Huxley, Edith and Osbert Sitwell, D. H. Lawrence, the Imagists, John Middleton Murry, Eliot, and others, Patricia Clements describes the Baudelaire who's the production of the English poets and identifies a few significant strains within the improvement of modernism in English literature.
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Extra info for Baudelaire and the English tradition
Those who refuse them that are none of their sons; and among all these "famous men, and our fathers," no names seem to demand our praise so loudly as theirs who while alive had to dispense with the thanksgiving of men. To them doubtless, it may be said, this is now more than ever indifferent: but to us it had better not be so. (346) The unacknowledged fathers are likely to be those who have refused to gratify tradition, as it now stands, and the taste of the greater number; but "those to whom the higher ways of work are not sealed ways" will be glad to praise them.
Des fonds . . lurid backgrounds of mingled purple and green, which reveal the phosphorescence of decay and the smell of the storm. toutes . . bathed in light, feverish, dying of mysterious maladies. SWINBURNE 35 et malades, mourant de maux bizarres"; they present "l'amour du grotesque . . l'amour de 1'horrible" (II, 317-18). Most im portantly, Baudelaire writes, "nous noterons que cet auteur, produit d'un si£cle infatue de lui-meme, enfant d'une nation plus infatuee d'elle-meme qu'aucune autre, a vu clairement, a imperturbablement affirm^ la mechancete naturelle de l'Homme" (II, 322).
That perception lies behind Poe's psychology, as Baudelaire sees it, and it probably also prompts Swinburne's identification of "Les Litanies de Satan" as the "key-note" of the Fleurs. What Poe saw, and what pits him against the facile op timism of his time and his place, is that there is in man une force mysterieuse dont la philosophic moderne ne veut pas tenir compte; et cependant, sans cette force innommee, sans ce penchant primordial, une foule d'actions humaines resteront inexpliquees, inexplicables.