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Seeing DoubleBaudelaire's Modernity$
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Francoise Meltzer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226519883

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226519876.001.0001

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Money (La Chambre Double)

Money (La Chambre Double)

(p.138) Chapter Three Money (La Chambre Double)
Seeing Double

Françoise Meltzer

University of Chicago Press

Baudelaire's disinterest in money, and his hatred of greed and profiteering, are complicated by his love of beautiful things. After the mid-1850s, Baudelaire often wrote to his mother to say that he was paying dearly (literally) for his love of things and his earlier extravagant expenditures. The consequences of financial expenditure are concretized in Balzac's La peau de chagrin, a novel that Baudelaire mentions more than once. In that tale, a young man finds a magic shagreen that grants wishes. But every wish makes the skin shrink. Once divested of the control of his money, Baudelaire falls into debt through endless credit transactions. He rarely keeps his side of the bargain until the creditor becomes so threatening that Baudelaire resorts to begging for small amounts of cash from his mother. In his letters to his mother, he begs through emotional extortion (he is sick, has no coat, no heat, nowhere to live).

Keywords:   money, Baudelaire, expenditures, magic shagreen, credit transactions, greed

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