It took a very long time to read but that is because it was a pleasure to read and who rushes through pleasure. (Perhaps too many of us.)
I found the discussion of Baudelaire useful, difficult and often even lovely. As Walter Benjamin looks back nearly a century to understand his own time, so I find much in his thoughts helpful not only to better understand and so read, Baudelaire, but also Benjamin. Benjamin, along the way, offers some insights into our own confused/comic/tragic times.
I find Benjamin persuasive: Baudelaire is not simply the poet of Modern Life, but the poet of the psyche of Modern Life--the last lyric poet before lyric poetry was silenced by incessant noise. ( A condition that defines both Hell and life as we know it.)
By Benjamin's time, the notion of modernity lost whatever positive strains it once possessed as it passed from a grim industrial, into the global. Benjamin's radical conception was that it was possible to find in the life of a man and his work, who lived a century earlier, a guide to understand his own time. In the same way, we would profit, by reading Benjamin, dead now for 70 years, to understand something of our urban, if not urbane existence. The shock has not gone away in spite of the cushion of personal digital technology.
Niccolo Machiavelli, in another City, in the early 16th Century, wrote: " If the present be compared with the remote past, it is easily seen that in all cities and in all peoples, there are always the same desires and the same passions as there always were." Here, as elsewhere, Machiavelli is prophetic.
We may transition, but we don't change. Benjamin sought to understand the impact of industrial life on the experience of the urban dweller, we might find him useful in understanding the effects of the digital revolution on our consciousness. Who, I wonder, will be our poet, the one, who in the manner of Baudelaire, manages to see inside the "works," from the privileged position of being on the outside?