Les Fleurs du mal and the Exotic: The Escapist Psychology of Visionary Poet

The development of the escapist psychology of Les Fleurs du mal corresponds to an autobiographical account of real and illusory experiences. The poet's escapism passes through several hierarchical stages, each one characterized by the same cyclical process: illusion, realization, rejection, ennui, and the search for illusion on a higher, more sophisticated plane. The various stages of the hierarchy are, in ascending order: childhood inhibitions and exotic fantasies, the physical voyage and equatorial reverie, the dream experience, drug-induced hallucinations, poetic visions, and, finally, the exotic attraction of death. The single most contributive experience affecting the expression of the escapist psychology of Les Fleurs du mal was Baudelaire's voyage to the Tropics in 1841, for each stage of the hierarchy is described in exotic terms relative to the climate, the inhabitants, and the geography of Africa, the Orient, and other distant lands. (HGF)

Henry, Freeman G
Volume 1979-1980 Fall-Winter; 8(1-2): 62-75.