This book was several years in the making and I have incurred more intellectual and personal debts than is possible to adequately acknowledge in these few lines. My first thanks go to Suzanne Nash, who shaped my initial encounter with Baudelaire, and to Thomas Trezise, who encouraged me to think about the stakes of critique. Yale provided a stimulating environment for the elaboration of this project. I am particularly grateful to the intellectual community of the Yale Journal of Criticism, to the graduate students in my poetry seminars, and to Vilashini Cooppan, John Mackay, and Susan Weiner for the warmth of their friendship and the generosity of their engagement with early versions of this work. My thinking was also enriched by conversations with Susan Blood, Peter Brooks, Denis Hollier, and Christopher Miller.
At Berkeley I found a vibrant community of colleagues and students that sustained me through this book’s completion. Suzanne Guerlac, Ann Smock, and Soraya Tlatli made invaluable suggestions on the manuscript itself, David Hult offered friendship and guidance, and I benefited from conversations with Karl Britto, Tim Hampton, Tom Kavanagh, Michael Lucey, Susan Maslan, and Nicholas Paige. I am also grateful to my students, and particularly to the participants of a Baudelaire seminar in Spring 2000 who will no doubt recognize reverberations of our conversations in what follows. A Humanities Research Fellowship in 2000–2001 gave me the time to orient this project toward questions of trauma and violence.
Many inspiring exchanges in formal and informal settings have also found their way into these pages. My thanks go to Ross Chambers, Margaret Cohen, James Helgeson, Elisabeth Ladenson, Christophe Lagier, Brigitte Mahuzier, Kevin Newmark, Geoff Nunberg, Richard Sieburth, Kevin Smith, Sonya Stephens, Dick Terdiman, and Gordon Teskey. David Peritz provided intellectual guidance early on and remains a cherished interlocutor; Ellen Wayland-Smith patiently perused these chapters’ roughest drafts and helped to coax them into shape; Christina Sanders edited an early version of the manuscript; Noah Guynn and Julie Trager were anchors of friendship throughout; Shayan and Manon arrived in time to celebrate. I am also grateful to Larry Kritzman and Gerry Prince for their support as I sought to place the book. It was a pleasure to work with my editors at the Johns Hopkins University Press. A special thanks to Peter Dreyer, whose editorial expertise saved me from many errors. The ones that remain are my own.
Portions of this work first appeared in earlier versions as articles in several scholarly venues that I would like to acknowledge here: “Baudelaire and the Trauma of Modernity,” Bulletin Baudelairien 39 (2004); “The Tie That Binds: Violent Commerce in Baudelaire’s ‘La Corde,’” Yale French Studies 101 (2002); “The Object of Poetry: Commodity and Critique in Baudelaire,” Confrontations: Politics and Aesthetics in Nineteenth-Century France, Rodopi (2001); “Broken Engagements: Sartre, Camus, and the Question of Commitment,” Yale French Studies 98 (2000); “Conspiratorial Poetics: Baudelaire’s ‘Une Mort héroïque,’” Nineteenth-Century French Studies, 27/4 (1999). I am grateful to the editors for permission to reprint this material.
It is hard to find words of thanks for those who have virtually co-existed with an endeavor. Suffice it to say that this book would not have been completed without the extraordinary support of Lynne Huffer. I am deeply grateful to my parents whose wisdom and irony as they navigated multiple worlds made so many things possible, and to Michael Iarocci with whom I closed one book and opened another.