Reviews

Baudelaire Through the Looking Glass

Michael Hayward

The Canadian poet Lisa Robertson’s first novel, The Baudelaire Fractal (Coach House), draws on Robertson’s own journals from the mid-198s, a period when, wanting to change her life, she (and/or her protagonist, Hazel Brown) flew from Vancouver to London, travelling from there to Paris by boat and train, carrying “used paperback copies of Ezra Pound’s ABC of Reading, Martin Heidegger’s Poetry, Language, Thought, Sylvia Plath’s Winter Trees and a beautifully bound volume of translations of classical Chinese poetry called Old Friend from Faraway.” The Baudelaire Fractal has one of the best back-cover tag lines ever: “One morning, Hazel Brown awakes in a badly decorated hotel room to find that she’s written the complete works of Charles Baudelaire.” Reading The Baudelaire Fractal revived a few memories of my own (and I’m sure that there are countless other Francophiles, besotted by books, who’ve had some kind of Paris interlude: nights in a non

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