Classical past in Baudelaire's Le cygne: a reconsideration

Authors

  • Marko Marinčič University of Ljubljana

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/an.42.1-2.179-186

Keywords:

French literature / French poetry

Abstract

In the the third preface to Les Fleurs du Mal, Baudelaire curiously refers to Virgil as the only 'source' for his Le Cygne. Ithas been seen that Horace's description of the living poet's metamorphosis into a swan (Carmina 2.20) is a much more obvious classical reference as far as the title character is concerned, and the mention of »l'homme d'Ovide« seems to point the reader to Ovid's narrative of the creation of man in the Metamorphoses (1.76-86) as a model e contrario for the degradation of the divine bird in Baudelaire's poem. Baudelaire's modem version of the classical symbol of the sublime at first seems to suggest an ironic response to Horace and Ovid. On a second reading, however, the basic 'negativism' orsaudelaire's swan myth reveais a hidden thread of continuity with the classical past: it reveals Ovid's experience as an exilee as the primary parallel to the situations of Andromache and the swan. Conversely, Horace's swan-metamorphosis, though essentially Platonic, provides, through its over-literal, grotesque realism, an ante litteram alternative to the Platonising aesthetics of the earlier Romantics.

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Published

30.12.2009

How to Cite

Marinčič, M. (2009). Classical past in Baudelaire’s Le cygne: a reconsideration. Acta Neophilologica, 42(1-2), 179–186. https://doi.org/10.4312/an.42.1-2.179-186

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Section

Articles