Baudelaire and Maistre: the Weight of Original Sin

May 22, 2014
Social Sciences, Room 122
1126 E 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Fran├žoise MeltzerUniversity of Chicago

By 1851, the poet Charles Baudelaire had become obsessed — in contrast to his previous anarchist position — with the views of the reactionary and fiercely Catholic Joseph de Maistre. Maistre argued that Original Sin “explains everything,” a perspective that Baudelaire was to adopt, and which markedly changed his poetry. This lecture will consider Baudelaire’s preoccupation with sin in light of Kierkegaard’s treatment of anxiety and sin in The Concept of Anxiety.

Françoise Meltzer is the Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities, Professor in the Divinity School and the College, and Chair of Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago. Her specialties are nineteenth-century French and German literatures and critical theory. She is editor of Saints: Faith Without Borders with Jas’ Elsner, and is author of Seeing Double: Baudelaire’s Modernity and Fear of the Fire: Joan of Arc and the Limits of Subjectivity.