BAUDELAIRE: Prince of Clouds by Alex De Jonge

BAUDELAIRE: Prince of Clouds

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KIRKUS REVIEW

If modern poets are sufferers, Baudelaire was their father. According to Alex De Jonge, Fellow and Tutor at Oxford, Baudelaire not only ""inaugurated the language and the idioms of modern poetry,"" he ""was the first to fix the broken, neurotic consciousness of modern man, to pinpoint his dreams and fantasies."" De Jonge's concise biographical essay (more specialized than the Enid Starkie biography) gives central place to Baudelaire's neurotic consciousness as it was formed amid the miseries of his failed life and entered his art. The life failed mainly because Baudelaire had no mind for money: he squandered his patrimony, incurred crushing debts, disdained remunerative work, begged his family for aid and despised their bourgeois cautions. He was not a responsible man, nor a pleasant one, shifting constantly from servility to invective and back, bewailing all the while his unhappiness and indolence. De Jonge believes these torments truly ruined Baudelaire's life but made him the poet he became by driving him to view poetry as a magical escape, as ""alchemy, a spiritualizing process."" This poetic vision gave Baudelaire entry into the deepest moods and discontents of modern life and opened the way to that life's transcendence. De Jonge prizes this pained poetic sensibility, whose workings he elucidates in brief analyses of Baudelaire's poems, without explaining its psychological or social origins. Thus the reader must decide if Baudelaire caused his own suffering and if modern poets can choose another path.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1977
Publisher: Paddington--dist. by Grosset