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The Flaneur’s Relationship to Marginal Types in The Old Acrobat

The Flaneur’s Relationship to Marginal Types in The Old Acrobat

In Charles Baudelaire’s “The Old Acrobat,” the flaneur describes his encounter with a fallen figure who eventually reveals the lack of humanity in the city people’s hardened hearts. The flaneur finds comfort in people with border personality types because he can easily relate to them. He is an idler in a world which concentrates on excess, over-stimulation and one of which runs on a constant invisible ticking clock that pushes the masses towards desensitization and unhappiness. These, among many other pretentious things, make him seek out the uncommon populace, a breed of seemingly raw people who live their lives in front of the world’s eyes. He is bored and uninterested in the ennui, commonplace people who make up the majority of society because they can create facades to shield their faults from the world’s view. Rather than concentrating on the mundane and masked life of the middle and upper class, the flanuer focuses his attention towards the transient, eccentric “drifting clouds”1 who are not a part of the active social milieu.

In “The Old Acrobat,” the flanuer is lured by the naturalistic and crude appearances of the street performers caused by society’s need for abstract stimulation. The acrobat is physically and mentally drained from performing straining and exhausting tasks for the gratification of others. The dominant scent at the carnival is “a frying odor”2 which hints that the performers are sacrificing themselves and literally “frying” their souls away to satisfy their hungry audiences. Even the acrobat is described as being “illuminated all too well by two burned-down candles”3 which are “dripping and smoking.”4 There is a sense of…

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…o ponder whether the flaneur’s attraction is self-destructive as he states, “I have just seen the image of the old writer who has survived the generation whose brilliant entertainer he was…debased by his wretchedness and the public’s ingratitude, and whose booth the forgetful world no longer wants to enter!”17


1. Charles Baudelaire, The Parisian Prowler, 2nd ed. trans. Edward K. Kaplan (Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1997),

2. Baudelaire, The Parisian Prowler, 29.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid., 27.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., 30.

17. Ibid.


Baudelaire, Charles. The Parisian Prowler. Trans. Edward K. Kaplan. 2nd ed. Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1997.

Essay on Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider): Finding a Rational God through Nature

Finding a Rational God through Nature in Camus’ The Stranger (The Outsider)

Turning towards nature for fulfillment, The Stranger’s Meursault rejects the ideology of God as a savior and is consequently juxtaposed against Jesus Christ’s martyrdom, Christianity and the infamous crucifixion. To the inexperienced reader, Meursault appears to be an extreme atheist. Later in Albert Camus’ novel, he is revealed as a humanistic soul that’s in touch with the universality of the earth and soil he treads upon. Through the use of blunt and undefined nature images, Meursault’s revelations and newfound trust within an environment outside of society are softly whispered by Camus. In essence, Meursault imposes his need for meaning upon nature as well as upon a God who rejects him. Through this imposition, he hopes to acquire an immortality which is similar to a Christian afterlife. The arguments of nature as a religion and as an entity separate from God are jointly focused upon in the modern criticisms and interpretations of The Stranger I will discuss. Pantheism, a quasi-religious worship of nature, comes into mind when looking at Meursault’s final communion with the world. Is pantheism a mere excuse for Meursault’s actions or rather a secret reality of his which the public is not ready to confront or understand? Icons and stereotypes accompany this enigmatic, suggestive natural imagery and are employed by Camus to show the irrationality in both society’s and Meursault’s assumptions of religion and of Christianity. One is left with the question of Meursault’s acceptance of death; is Meursault’s embracing of his fate representative of his fall into the abyss of traditional Christian faith or indeed a turn towards a happy medium in nature?…

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…thood Without God.” In Mansions of the Spirit. Ed. George A. Panichas. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc. Publishers, 1967. 313-324.

Hanna, Thomas L. “Albert Camus and the Christian Faith.” In Camus: A Collection of Critical Essays. edited by Germaine Bree. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1962. 48-64.

Harrison, Paul. “Scientific Pantheism: Basic Principles.” Elements of Pantheism. [cited from April 20 1999]. Availible from

Peyre, Henri. “Camus the Pagan.” In Camus: A Collection of Critical Essays. edited by Germaine Bree. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1962. 65-70. Piper, H.W. The Active Universe. London: The Athlone Press 1962.

Sprintzen, David. Camus: A Critical Examination. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988. Woelfel, James W. Camus: A Theological Perspective. New York: Abingdon Press, 1975.

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