Sightseeing in Paris with Baudelaire and Breton
Komins, B. J.
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
Purdue University Press
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n his article "Sightseeing in Paris with Baudelaire and Breton," Benton Jay Komins discusses the tensions between Charles Baudelaire's acts of modern appropriation and André Breton's imaginative seizing of the démodé. While Breton roams the Parisian cityscape with the same aspect of creative gazing as Charles Baudelaire's nineteenth-century dandy, the objects and experiences that he privileges are different from the dandy's fashionable marvels. In texts such as Nadja passé artifacts captivate Breton. Between Baudelaire's revelling in the elegant modern possibilities of dandysme and Breton's imaginative seizing of démodé objects, something significant has occurred: Twentieth-century urbanites like Breton no longer celebrate the experience of the new; rather, they privilege the obsolete, injecting it with inspirational possibilities. Against the cultural frame of Baudelaire's dandy and the social phenomenon of the fetishized commodity, Breton's twentieth-century descriptions of ruined Parisian landmarks, decrepit neighbourhoods, and exhausted everyday objects indeed become political.