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Lectures croisées

Essays by Alan Raitt


Edited By Francesco Manzini

This selection of essays by Alan Raitt provides a series of cross-readings of nineteenth-century French literary authors and texts. The collection revolves around Flaubert and Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, the two authors with whom Raitt is most associated, situating them and their principal works in relation to each other, as well as to Balzac, Nerval, Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Huysmans. In so doing, the collection shows the extent to which nineteenth-century French literary history appears both as a succession and as a simultaneity of literary styles and credos.
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CHAPTER 9: On Le Spleen de Paris


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On Le Spleen de Paris

There exist four lists of titles of prose poems in Baudelaire’s hand, all in the Bibliotheque littéraire Jacques Doucet in Paris.1 Three of them contain titles of projected poems, hardly any of which were ever written; these are reproduced in most editions of Le Spleen de Paris, for instance in Robert Kopp’s critical edition2 and in the Pléiade edition by Claude Pichois.3 The fourth gives the titles of all the poems comprising Le Spleen de Paris, in the order in which they eventually appeared in Volume IV of the Œuvres complètes in 1869. These lists have been exhaustively studied to see what light they throw on Baudelaire’s projects, most notably by Robert Kopp (PPP, pp. 377–401), but they have not so far been much examined to discover what information they may yield on the evolution of Le Spleen de Paris itself. That is the object of the present article.

To begin with, a brief description of them may be helpful. The first three referred to above will be called lists, I, II and III, the numbers regularly ← 131 | 132 → assigned to them in editions of Le Spleen de Paris, while, for the sake of convenience, the fourth will be identified as list IV. List I, headed Poèmes à faire, followed by the word ‘FACILES’, crossed out, divides the poems into three sections, headed respectively Choses parisiennes, Oneirocritie and Symboles er...

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