The collection of prose poems known as Le Spleen de Paris is an important, puzzling and yet relatively neglected area of Baudelaire's work. This book attempts to cast light on the uncertainty that surrounds all aspects of these texts. Emphasizing the importance of approaching them chronologically, it focuses principally on the position of the artist and his attitude towards his art, the often enigmatic and contradictory moral message the poems purport to convey, and above all on the relationship between prose and poetry in this hybrid and, by the poet's own admission, 'dangerous' genre. This is the first study in English that is exclusively concerned with Le Spleen de Paris.
'Elegant and sensitive textual interpretations successfully define the fundamental themes of this worthy parallel to Les Fleurs du mal. ... This important study, combining philosophical and textual insights, constitutes a valuable introduction to an integral study of Le Spleen de Paris, Baudelaire's neglected masterpiece.' French Review
'Hiddleston has brought out, better than any previous critic,what characterizes the most profound as well as the most seemingly lightweight of Baudelaire's prose poems...It opens the way to a new and fuller understanding of what must always be regarded as BAaudelaire's puzzling but eminently fascinating recueil.' Times Higher Education Supplement
'this is an impressive book, essential reading for all those interested in Baudelaire and important for an understanding of the politics and literature of mid-19th-century France'
Adrian Poole, Modern & Contemporary France, 1994