So much for the narrative arts, you might think – but it’s a shame that Baudelaire didn’t pursue what little prose he wrote, for Fanfarlo is a great piece of work, it just could have done with being longer. Samuel Cramer is a promising young roué along the lines of Clovis Sangrail or Dorian Gray. In describing him, Baudelaire captures perfectly disaffected young adulthood, full of big dreams without concomitant effort and discipline: ‘One of Samuel’s most natural failings was to deem himself the equal of those he could admire; after an impassioned reading of a beautiful book, his unwitting conclusion was: now that is beautiful enough for me to have written! – and, in only the space of a dash, from there to think: therefore, I wrote it.’ He adds: ‘In today’s world, that sort of character is more widespread than we think; such beings teem on the streets, in public walkways, taverns, and all the refuges for strollers.’
Max Dunbar reviews Charles Baudelaire‘s Fanfarlo.