Australian Journal of French Studies

Creative Confinement and Narratives of Violence: Charles Baudelaire, Shumona Sinha and Assommons les pauvres!

Australian Journal of French Studies (2021), 58, (1), 63–75.

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between Baudelaire’s prose poem, “Assommons les pauvres!” (Le Spleen de Paris, 1869) and Shumona Sinha’s 2011 novel of the same title. Focusing on questions of reading and intertextuality, from Baudelaire’s reference to Proudhon to Sinha’s engagement with the prose poem and Le Spleen de Paris more broadly, it explores forms of confinement and creativity, the connections between narrative and freedom and the ways in which lyrical subjectivity and literary form reflect the social challenges of each period. In expressing socio-cultural and linguistic alienation, these texts centre the textual in an exploration of the marginal, thereby demonstrating that the connection between them goes beyond a critical act of violence and the presumed equality or dignity it confers, to represent a shared interrogation of universalism, multiculturalism, and authorial and political power.

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Author details

STEPHENS, SONYA