Poetry on Stage: Baudelaire’s Theater Voices

Taking Barthes’s concept of a Baudelairean “pre-theater” as its starting point, this article sets out to interrogate where Baudelaire’s theater voices may be located, both in theory and in practice. It examines two specific examples of performed/staged readings of Baudelaire’s poetry by two French actors (Pierre Blanchar and Fabrice Luchini). Through detailed analyses of “La Géante” and “Au lecteur,” it sets out to explore Baudelaire’s voices at variance and proxy voices which seem, perversely, to promote a work’s longevity beyond the published page. It concludes by suggesting that Baudelaire embeds diverging, conflicting, and contaminating theater voices into his poetic language, and that this is what enables them to move beyond a private stage and onto a public one.

Helen Abbott
Volume 47.1–2