Why cities emptied by Covid are perfect for the modern flâneur

Why cities emptied by Covid are perfect for the modern flâneur

The Guardian

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Copying the approach of Baudelaire’s quizzical stroller can help us escape lockdown – even if he needs a little updating

Charles Baudelaire, whose 200th birthday on 9 April will be celebrated with stamp issues, new editions of his poetry and virtual events, is arguably more famous for his concept of the flâneur – an aimless stroller or ambler – than for his writing. That’s partly because reading his volumes Les Fleurs du Mal or Le Spleen de Paris requires a degree of application, but also because the idea of an individual moving through the city streets and finding aesthetic pleasure in the teeming crowds, appeals to us and continues to chime. At least, it did until spring 2020, when the crowds were told to stay at home.

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