How does Baudelaire's prose poetry tell (human/modern/literary) time, and how do time and narrative tell the story of the poème en prose? Using textual analysis informed by a wide range of scholarship on Baudelaire, modernity, and narrative theory, Krueger argues that what lies beneath the genre's obvious evocation of formal and literary tensions (between verse and prose, between the lyric and the narrative), are larger questions of immortality and death. This study of Le Spleen de Paris is grounded in the recognition of a formal and thematic nexus in the prose poems, an impenetrable bond intensified by the deep connection between time and storytelling, and rendered particularly poignant for the abundant, overt references to the tyranny of time throughout this work. Simultaneously affirming and resisting both poetry and prose, Le Spleen de Paris puts off a literary choice, challenges a humanist condition, and resists a cultural mandate: progress. Cheryl Leah Krueger is Professor of French at the University of Virginia.
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