Understanding “The Human Comedy” through Baudelaire Eyes - the Heroism of Modern Life

Project Details


During the first three researches projects of the MOST (Ministry of Sience and Technology), wediscovered that Balzac and Cao Xueqin share some reflections on the “nobility” question. Whenboth of them describe and analyze the ‘nobility’ and some ‘immoral means to success’, it seems thatthey give more emphasize on the characters with more precise ideal.Though, these characters often appear as ‘madmen’. This seems to mean that success always requirea certain level of madness. The novel series ‘Philosophical studies’ (Études philosophiques) ofBalzac (like La recherche de l’absolu and Le Chef-d’oeuvre Inconnu ) is probably the master piecewhere we would find out the most ‘madmen’. Although these crazy scientists and artists correspondto the definition of ‘the modern aristocracy’ (la moderne aristocratie) in the ‘La Duchesse deLangeais’, they often experience an early death building a relationship between ‘modernaristocracy’, ‘madness’ and ‘death’.We will try to understand this relation from the aesthetic aspect. In ‘Salon de 1846’, the artistictheorist Baudelaire suggested different definition of the ‘romanticism’ (romantisme) and the‘heroism’ (héroïsme). He thinks that the ‘romanticism’ no longer belongs to ‘the nobility’ but the‘beauty’ (beauté); the ‘heroism’ is no longer a ‘great tradition’ but a ‘passion’. Balzac is the firstwriter who did understand how to demonstrate the ‘beauty’ and the ‘passion’ of ‘the modern life’ (lavie modern). Both scientists and artists possess extraordinary passion, ready to make any sacrifice toachieve their ideals. Their early death testify of the fact of their superiority.
Effective start/end date1/08/1631/10/17

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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