n French Studies in Southern Africa - L'œuvre sans nom de Charles Baudelaire ou l'unité perdue des

Volume 2008, Issue 38
  • ISSN : 0259-0247



Baudelaire has always maintained that there exists a certain parallelism between his collected verses () and his later poetic work in prose, (also called ). This parallelism is already apparent in the number of poems assembled in both cases : a hundred in the case of the first edition of , fifty in the case of the posthumously published . Yet, whereas is characterized by a closed structure, Baudelaire's specialists have always presented as an unfinished work with an open structure, basing their conclusions on the esthetics of fragmentation that Baudelaire himself advocates in his preface. By analyzing the very last prose poem, "Les Bons chiens", we will show that, while the prose poems reflect the experience of , they also possess a closed structure. Indeed, it would appear that this poem acts as a kind of summary of all the previous poems and signals a conclusion to the book, thus closing it. At the same time, these measures of self-repetition are opened up again by intertextual references to Rousseau, whose can be seen as a forerunner of prose poetry.

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