The Sonnet as Snapshot: Seizing the Instant in Baudelaire’s ‘A une passante’

Through a textual analysis of Baudelaire’s sonnet, this essay explores the relationship between poetry and technology in the mid-nineteenth century. The breakdown of lyric poetry that has been associated with Baudelaire is read alongside technological experiments in reencoding and reproducing voice. The resemblance between "A une passante" and an instantaneous photograph is seen as announcing the reencoding of voice as image that will characterize later forms of poetic modernism. The concept of the "optical unconscious" that Walter Benjamin introduced in his "Little History of Photography" (1931) is used to elucidate the subliminal uncanniness of Baudelaire’s poem and its connection to the prose poem "Les Veuves." (SB)

Blood, Susan.
Volume 2008 Spring-Summer; 36(3-4): 255-69.