E491 CHARLES BAUDELAIRE QUESTIONS

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Assigned: From The Painter of Modern Life (789-802).

From The Painter of Modern Life (1863)

1. How does Baudelaire's analysis of beauty implicitly criticize or reject Kant's treatment of aesthetics? (793)

2. According to Baudelaire, Stendhal's definition of beauty as "nothing else but a promise of happiness" (une promesse de bonheur) breaks cleanly with "the academic error." What does he apparently mean by the latter term? (793)

3. Baudelaire treats the obscure artist Constantin Guys as the type of the artist as flâneur. What are the defining characteristics of this type? How is Guys the embodiment of "genius" as Baudelaire defines it? (794-95)

4. How does Baudelaire's definition of "genius" (795) compare with Kant's (533-34)?

5. What inferences can you make about the status of the individual artist in Baudelaire's theory? In his description of the flâneur (and later of the dandy), is Baudelaire offering all of us a model for perceiving the world afresh, or is he implying that this kind of power is limited to an elite artistic few? (see 795 bottom - 796)

6. How does Baudelaire define "modernity"? Is this a phenomenon he claims is new in human history, or is it a recurring one? Why is it vital for artist (or critics) to attend to the details, the ephemera, of their own times? (796-98)

7. How does Baudelaire characterize the "dandy"? How does this rare modern type differ from the flâneur in his comportment towards his fellow citizens and their habits and beliefs? (798-800)

8. In the section "In Praise of Cosmetics," what fault does Baudelaire find with his predecessors and contemporaries who appeal to nature as the foundation of morals and beauty? Why is artifice (including cosmetics) a better foundation for both morals and beauty? (800-02)

9. Much as Oscar Wilde would do a few decades later, Baudelaire privileges artifice over raw nature, defiantly showing contempt for his predecessor critics' attempt to base art and ethics on some conception of nature. First of all, how does this defiance play out the claims of Kant and Schiller concerning art? (general question)

10. Secondly with reference to question 9, to what extent do you think this kind of "aestheticist" approach to the artistic production and experience retains genuine insight and power? (general question)

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN 0-393-97429-4.