Le vivant, l’informe et le dégoût: Baudelaire, Flaubert et l’art de la (dé)composition

Baudelaire and Flaubert were both attracted to the question of the shapeless and the aesthetic challenges it raises. In more ways than one, the poem “Une charogne”, as well as the misadventures of Bouvard and Pécuchet, faced with putrescent matter, fall within the aesthetics of disgust. The shapeless and putrefaction also serve as a springboard for a claim to formal mastery aiming to make the filthy give birth to the beautiful. In Flaubert’s case, the mention of decomposed matter promotes an aesthetic ideal of autogenesis that echoes Félix-Archimède Pouchet’s theories on spontaneous generation.