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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Saturday, January 22, 2011

oh those poets and their cat-loving ways

You'd think the poet Baudelaire (yes, that Baudelaire, the Flowers of Evil one) offered journalists plenty of opportunity to trash talk him without really trying. However, I have found an instance in which he was taken to task for his love of cats. . .

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Baudelaire's affection for cats long supplied the petty press with a subject of ridicule. This was natural, for there is an innate opposition between the active and turbulent spirit common to journalists, and the contemplative and introspective character of the poet. Here is a sample:—

"It has become the fashion in the society formed by Baudelaire and his companions to make too much of cats, after the example of Hoffmann, Edgar Poe, and Grautier. Baudelaire, going for the first time to a house, and on business, is uneasy and restless until he has seen the household cat. But when he sees it, he takes it up, kisses and strokes it, and is so completely occupied with it that he makes no answer to anything that is said to him; he is a thousand miles away with his cat. People stare at this breach of good manners, but he is a man of letters, an oddity, and the lady of the house henceforth regards him with curiosity. The poet's turn is served. Let us only astonish the world at any price!"

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Wait a minute. You mean you're not supposed to do that?

Quote is from Champfleury, The Cat, Past and Present (translated from the French by Mrs. Cashel Hoey; London: George Bell and Sons, 1885), p. 83.


Winnie said...

When I see a cat I am uneasy and restless until I've tried my absolute best to get away from the Lady Of The House, slip my collar and give it a really good chase.

Sadly (for me) I have a very tight-fitting greyhound collar.

Katnip Lounge said...

I have to do that too. And get a good sniff in, to boot. I am out of the closet about my cat-sniffing habit. Beats glue, hands down.

Catmama said...

There is nothing better than the sound of a purr; especially a purr heard while cuddling a cat in your arms.