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Parent category: 1840s

Related: Charles Baudelaire - Poe

1846-1847, Baudelaire discovers Poe

Baudelaire had learned English in his childhood, and Gothic novels, such as Lewis's The Monk, became some of his favorite reading matter. In 1846 and 1847 he became acquainted with the works of Edgar Allan Poe, in which he found tales and poems which had, he claimed, long existed in his own brain, but had never taken shape. From this time till 1865 he was largely occupied with his translated versions of Poe's works, which were widely praised. These were published as Histoires extraordinaires (1852), Nouvelles histoires extraordinaires (1857), Aventures d'Arthur Gordon Pym, Eureka, and Histoires grotesques et sérieuses (1865). Two essays on Poe are to be found in his Oeuvres complètes (vols. v. and vi.). [Jul 2006]

In 1847 Baudelaire had discovered the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Overwhelmed by what he saw as the almost preternatural similarities between the American writer's thought and temperament and his own, he embarked upon the task of translation that was to provide him with his most regular occupation and income for the rest of his life. His translation of Poe's Mesmeric Revelation appeared as early as July 1848, and thereafter translations appeared regularly in reviews before being collected in book form in Histoires extraordinaires (1856; "Extraordinary Tales") and Nouvelles Histoires extraordinaires (1857; "New Extraordinary Tales"), each preceded by an important critical introduction by Baudelaire. These were followed by Les Aventures d'Arthur Gordon Pym (1857), Euréka (1864), and Histoires grotesques et sèrieuses (1865; "Grotesque and Serious Tales"). As translations these works are, at their best, classics of French prose, and Poe's example gave Baudelaire greater confidence in his own aesthetic theories and ideals of poetry. Baudelaire also began studying the work of the conservative theorist Joseph de Maistre, who, together with Poe, impelled his thought in an increasingly antinaturalist and antihumanist direction. From the mid-1850s Baudelaire would regard himself as a Roman Catholic, though his obsession with original sin and the Devil remained unaccompanied by faith in God's forgiveness and love, and his Christology was impoverished to the point of nonexistence. --http://www.veinotte.com/baudelaire/baudelaire2.htm [Jul 2006]

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