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The sentimental education of the novel / Margaret Cohen.


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Cohen, Margaret.
Publication date:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1999.
  • Book
  • vi, 219 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. [197]-209) and index.
  • List of Illustrations vii Acknowledgments ix Introduction Reconstructing the Literary Field Out of the century's chaos 3 Realism in literary-political contexts 10 Genre is a social relation 16 Hors d'usage 20 Chapter I Conflicting Duties: Sentimental Poetics What else is lost in Illusions perdues 26 Conflicting duties 34 The double bind of liberalism 40 Woman's destiny 46 A light touch 48 Few details, few manners, few portraits 50 Image of the heart 53 Sentimental blazon 54 "..." 57 Beyond purely personal life 58 All should be clear 60 To interest, to instruct 62 Analysis of the heart 63 Oh torments of an uneasy conscience! 64 Tableau 65 A secure refuge 67 "Tragedy now is politics" (Napoleon, 1799) 70 Chapter II The Novel Is a Young Man of Great Expectations: Realism against Sentimentality So women wrote under the Emperor? 77 Novels for chambermaids and salon novels 82 Woe to those who accept the social contract 87 An obstacle, a motive, a duty 90 A minor duty! A duty of little importance! 93 The way of the world 97 Just want it! 104 The goal of all her actions 106 What I understand as sacrifice 108 I write for men, not girls 112 Chapter III The Heart and the Code: George Sand and the Sentimental Social Novel What will rule the novel? 119 The heart and the code 124 The tears of the oppressed 130 The political idea, the social idea 135 Victim of an unjust law 139 I am the slave and you the lord 143 The heart that directs her conduct 145 Huge heaps of manure 150 Physical and moral beauty's diverse and contrasting forms 153 The novelist is the real lawyer of abstract beings 155 Chapter IV A Compromised Position: French Realism and the Femme Auteur He said, she said 163 The Muse of Limoges 165 "Rather death." "Rather life." 174 Une Fausse Position 185 Woman is the style 191 Select Bibliography 197 Index 211.
  • (source: Nielsen Book Data)
Publisher's Summary:
The nineteenth-century French novel has long been seen as the heroic production of great men, who confronted in their works the social consequences of the French Revolution. And it is true that French realism, especially as developed by Balzac and Stendhal, was one of the most influential novelistic forms ever invented. Margaret Cohen, however, challenges the traditional account of the genesis of realism by returning Balzac and Stendhal to the forgotten novelistic contexts of their time. Reconstructing a key formative period for the novel, she shows how realist codes emerged in a 'hostile take-over' of a prestigious contemporary sentimental practice of the novel, which was almost completely dominated by women writers.Cohen draws on impressive archival research, resurrecting scores of forgotten nineteenth-century novels, to demonstrate that the codes most closely identified with realism were actually the invention of sentimentality, a powerful aesthetic of emerging liberal-democratic society, although Balzac and Stendhal trivialized sentimental works by associating them with 'frivolous' women writers and readers. Attention to these gendered struggles over genre explains why women were not pioneers of realism in France during the nineteenth century, a situation that contrasts with England, where women writers played a formative role in inventing the modern realist novel.Cohen argues that to understand how literary codes respond to material factors, it is imperative to see how such factors take shape within the literary field as well as within society as a whole. This book also proposes that attention to literature as a social institution will help critics resolve the current, vital question of how to practice literary history in the wake of poststructuralism.
(source: Nielsen Book Data)
Winner of Modern Language Association's Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies 2000.
(source: Nielsen Book Data)

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