The following document is a meta-commentary on the article "Decanting the Rabelaisian Casks: Democratizing Neoplatonic Poetic Fury in Baudelaire's 'L’âme du vin'," co-authored by Dr. Robert J. Hudson and myself, which will soon be submitted for publication. It contains an annotated bibliography of all our primary and secondary sources and an account of the genesis of the argument and the writing of the article. Our article is based upon an analysis of "‘L’âme du vin," the threshold poem of "Le Vin," the central section of Charles Baudelaire's celebrated volume Les Fleurs du Mal. As we demonstrate, previous scholarship on this section is sparse and while certain poems within in have received attention from distinguished scholars, the integral part that it plays in the larger work has been downplayed, if not entirely neglected. Our reading of the poem allows for an explanation of the structure of the entire collection, illuminates Baudelaire's intended internal architecture, and elucidates his theory of poetic creation and aesthetic ideals more generally. As we demonstrate, the transition from the Parisian commoner in "Tableaux parisiens" to the transcendent poet in "Fleurs du mal" requires the transformation provided by the intoxication in "Le Vin" which lends itself to divine fury and attainment of transcendence in and ascension to the sonnets of the "Fleurs du mal." Our development of this conclusion comes through a study of Baudelaire's employment of Neoplatonic theories and images and adoption of Rabelais' Gallic codification of these Neoplatonic tropes. "‘L’âme du vin" illustrates the essence of Baudelaire's progressive populist thought previous to the Revolution of 1848, by rendering permanent the inversion of social order found in the Rabelaisian/Bakhtinian carnavalesque. The Neoplatonic ladder to transcendence, based on Plato's four stages of divine fury, and systemized by Renaissance thinkers Marsilio Ficino and Pontus de Tyard, is tipped, or thrown, on its side in Baudelaire's work, demonstrating not only the overthrow of the hierarchy of the Old Regime, but the solidification of the humanization of the common, working man, the premier venu or homme de la rue, and the ability of the least of society, rather than the members of the nobility or leisured class of centuries past, to access divine fury and poetic transcendence by imbibing, integrating, and appreciating the soul of wine.
College and Department
Humanities; French and Italian
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Ballieu, Kristen, "Decanting the Rabelaisian Casks: Democratizing Neoplatonic Poetic Fury in Baudelaire's “L’âme du vin”" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 3955.
Charles Baudelaire, Wine, Poetic Fury, Neoplatonic, Populist, François Rabelais