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Le décadent ou la haine de la démocratie, de Charles Baudelaire à Elémir Bourges

Abstract : At the end of 19th century, as the democratic thought process was evolving, the decadent experienced an ontological break away from the old order, whose hierarchies were crushed under the pressure of social equality. From the hierarchical system of the Ancien Régime which, by definition, transcended and pledged the divine will, one adopted a democratic system of levelling and non differentiation of immanence. As a consequence of the end of century malaise, the hatred which the decadent had for democracy was apparent through the condemnation of its entire ideological basis. Hence, Rousseau and his philosophical premise of « man being naturally good » became the preferred target of his critique, which besides was directed at the entire legacy of the Enlightened, particularly their belief in the notion of Progress. Indeed, the decadent could not agree with the idea that indefinite progress could but be harmful to the human soul and hinder its Salvation. During the advent of democracy, the status of poet enjoyed by the decadent was also in jeopardy, because the deconsecration and disillusionment of the world also lead to the poet being depoetized. In view of the standardisation of the masses, the conformist and contagious reflection of the democratic society endangered the singularity, the individuality and the aristocratic character of the decadent. Faced with such a situation, he had a choice : he could retreat in his ivory tower, away from the bourgeois values of society, in order to preserve his singularity and uniqueness, or, like a damned and haloless poet, he could henceforth talk in prose about modernity, that of a world in a state of dereliction, within the compassionate brotherhood of all deprived people, in order to create a new harmony.
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Arnaud Souty. Le décadent ou la haine de la démocratie, de Charles Baudelaire à Elémir Bourges. Littératures. Université Charles de Gaulle - Lille III, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016LIL30007⟩. ⟨tel-01546613⟩

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