This chapter considers the reception of the poetry of Charles Baudelaire through the music of the Soviet metal band Chernyi Obelisk. It argues that Chernyi Obelisk's four Baudelaire settings, performed in Russian, as part of their early live sets in 1986/1987, offer an important part of the poet's reception history, within the Soviet Union. Taking as a starting point, Michael Robbins's claim that ‘metal and poetry are […] arts of accusation and instruction’, the chapter explores ideas of alienation and of the carnivalesque in Baudelaire's works, as presented through the medium of metal music. Focussing particular on settings of ‘Spleen’ and ‘Une Gravure fantastique’, the chapter contends that Chernyi Obelisk's intertextual and interlingual dialogue with Baudelaire can be read as an aesthetic response to social and political uncertainty during the era of glasnost and perestroika.
This chapter presents research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant ref: AH/M008940/1). The author would like to thank the AHRC for making this research possible.
Ardrey, C. (2020), "Baudelaire and Black Metal: Performing Poetry under
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