Baudelaire’s “L’Étranger” and the Limits of Mind-Reading
L'Esprit Createur: a critical quarterly of French literature
Johns Hopkins University Press
© 2018 L’Esprit Créateur
The position of "L'étranger" at the very beginning of Baudelaire's collection of poèmes en prose gives it the status of a frame: it establishes the terms of the reading contract. This essay reads the text as the dramatization of a kind of interpersonal encounter that is repeatedly described in the prose poems, and that may also be programmed by these texts: an encounter that ostensibly confirms but tacitly contests the mind-reader's powers of inference. This reading is supported by reference to two previously overlooked intertexts: Arsène Houssaye's Le roi Voltaire (1858) and Gustave Merlet's 1858 critique of this biography.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Johns Hopkins University Press via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 58 (1), pp. 32-47