BAUDELAIRE AT 20 YEARS OLD:
The journey to India
In 1841, Charles Baudelaire was twenty years old. Pressed by his relatives and especially his father-in-law, he begins a journey to discover the Indies. The reasons for this incredible and perilous journey are more numerous and more obscure than it seems.
After nine months of adventure, he returned the following year, barely two months before he came of age. The only certainty about this journey is the influence on the poet’s life and work. This interlude at the age of twenty will mark the writing of Les Fleurs du mal of course, Les petits poèmes en prose and his life choices.
As young as he is, he doesn’t yet understand the significance of it. Beyond inspiration, he will elaborate a myth that he will distort at his convenience. Biographers and admirers describe this journey to India with varying degrees of accuracy, often yielding to chauvinism and the desire to shine under the lights of the masterpiece and its genius. One would forget the oral heritage that does exist and which is very useful to complete and make coherent the story of this journey.
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