In the nineteenth century and continuing to our own day, many atheist and agnostic writers have borrowed from a theological framework while refuting tenets of Christianity, especially the existence of a benevolent God and the possibility of redemption. Mid-nineteenth-century poet Charles Baudelaire goes further than many contemporary thinkers in identifying the consequences of refusing to entertain the possibility of salvation of any kind, whether by art, politics, or divine intervention. One important consequence is that he is able to create the possibility of a new, antimodern, ethics.
Joseph Acquisto joined the University of Vermont in 2003. He specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century French literature, with particular emphasis on lyric poetry and the novel. He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including his most recent, The Fall out of Redemption: Writing and Thinking Beyond Salvation in Baudelaire, Cioran, Fondane, Agamben, and Nancy (Bloomsbury, 2015). His teaching focuses on modern French literature and intermediate and advanced language courses. He serves as faculty director of the Global Village Residential Learning Community.