Baudelaire and the Dilettante Work Ethic

  • Richard Hibbitt
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


Jean-Paul Sartre described Baudelaire as an ‘“aboulic” who was incapable of settling down to regular work’. But Baudelaire’s view of work should be considered with regard to his personal aesthetic and to the socio-political context of nineteenth-century artistic production: although he struggled to reconcile working for the symbolic profit of pleasure with the necessity of making a living, he does not reject work per se. It is this commitment to an alternative view of literary labour that I call the dilettante work ethic. This chapter places Baudelaire’s attitude to work in the context of aesthetics, autonomy and professional ethics, before analysing references to work in his critical writings and representations of the poet as worker in his verse and prose poems.


Aesthetics Autonomy Capitalism Charles Baudelaire Dandy Dilettantism Ethics Leisure Money Work 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Hibbitt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK

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