Book Reviews Françoise Meltzer. Seeing Double: Baudelaire's Modernity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. 280 pp. Françoise Meltzer's latest book analyzes the phenomenon of "double vision" across Baudelaire's oeuvre. But much more than that, it is an invitation au voyage in its own right, prodding the reader to partake in and practice this double vision. It begins by solemnly declaring that it is "not yet another book about modernity" but in the same breath declares that the protean variations on modernity run "like a badly sewn thread throughout" (1). It both is and is not another book on modernity, one in which Baudelaire serves as a guide toward a fresh "double" look at both a well-studied poet and at modernity. In the study's grand narrative, 1848 functions as the pivot. But rather than separate out a before and an after, Meltzer proposes that Baudelaire created an "aesthetic strabismus" that sees both "worlds" at once. Much of the tension in Baudelaire's verse and prose poetry results, then, from an inability to integrate the two visions. For Meltzer, Baudelaire serves as a sort of optical instrument, "recording" without necessarily understanding or even fully acknowledging the full duality of his vision.
French Forum – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jan 9, 2014