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Debt, Credit and the Alibi of Productive Expenditure in Baudelaire

Sweeney, Niamh 2016. Debt, Credit and the Alibi of Productive Expenditure in Baudelaire. New Readings 16 , pp. 22-41. 10.18573/newreadings.25

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This article focuses on how Charles Baudelaire’s experience of the abstract conditions of emergent capitalism registers on his work. Whereas, to date, critical discourse around Baudelaire’s experience of capitalism has tended to emphasise the centrality of the ’concrete’ form of the commodity, I consider, rather, how his debt-relations, and particularly his understanding of reliance on debt through the optic of his readings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Joseph de Maistre, determine the rhythm of his later artistic output: this is characterised more by periods of non-production (despite declarations of his resolve to work/write), than of active creativity. Concentrating particularly on his letters to his mother, editors, agent and financial guardian from 1858, I argue how his reliance on debt resonates with the Saint-Simonian principle of productive expenditure, then deployed to undertake the transformation of Paris, which brought the city to the brink of bankruptcy at the end of the Second Empire.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DC France
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
Publisher: Cardiff University Press
ISSN: 1359-7485
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 07 May 2023 01:50

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