'Je' dans les Tableaux Parisiens de Baudelaire

The unity of the Tableaux Parisiens derives less from urban themes than from the focus on a lyrical "I" whose identity is indistinguishable from the poetic discourse he produces and is produced by. This "je" has a diurnal aspect, concerned with the problem of meaning in an external world in which there is no transcendent guarantee, and a nocturnal aspect, involved with the problematics of desire in an inner universe controlled by fantasy (representation, memory, dreaming). Two representative poems "Le Cygne" and "Le Jeu" are analyzed so as to illustrate these two sets of problems. Finally, however, the "je" emerges as a single entity, unified by the close relationship between language and fantasy, the problem of meaning and the problem of desire. Each situates the "je" off-center, in a between space that is neither inner nor outer, whether he faces the infinite displacement of meaning in the world of signs or turns to the inner abyss opened by the fascination of desire. The modernity of the Tableaux Parisiens derives then from the creation of a lyrical "I" whose double adventure-the adventure of meaning and the adventure of desire –displays the controlling function of a single pervasive feature: that of a sense of lack. (RC)

Chambers, Ross.
Volume 1980-1981 Fall-Winter; 9(1-2): 59-68.