James MacManus’s newest book, Black Venus, focuses on the poet Baudelaire and Jeanne Duval, the Haitian cabaret performer who was his lover and inspired some of his poetry. This is just the sort of historical fiction I enjoy and I’m really looking forward to getting to read it. In the mean time, I have this interview with MacManus to share:
Q: What inspired you to write a novel about Charles Baudelaire?
A: The enduring mystery of his relationship with his mistress and muse Jeanne Duval. From my schooldays on I have been intrigued by Baudelaire’s long attachment to a woman who ruined him, yet inspired him to write great poetry.
Q: If you could ask Baudelaire one question what would it be?
A: Did you really love your Black Venus, your mistress and muse Jeanne Duval?
Q: If people could learn on thing from Baudelaire’s poetry what would it be?
A: That those who feel tormented by their own frailties and despair of life in a wicked and world can find redemption in love and a passion for artistic beauty
Q: Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside?
A: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. A romantic comedy set in New York of the 1950s .It was a time when that city was at its dazzling best as indeed was Capote’s witty, frothy writing. I would have insisted on meeting Audrey Hepburn of course because the book and film have sort of merged in our cultural consciousness
Q: What are you working on next?
A: That’s a secret.