Acts of Fiction: Resistance and Resolution from Sade to Baudelaire

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The idea that narrative operates as a symbolic resolution of realities that are undesirable, uncontrollable, or unbearable has gained considerable currency in fields as diverse as Marxist criticism and Lacanian psychoanalysis. What has received less attention is that narratives largely lose their effectiveness when their symbolic nature is uncovered, when the resolutions they offer are revealed to be ''merely'' symbolic. Acts of Fiction demonstrates how narratives operate under cover, negotiating problematic ...

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Overview

The idea that narrative operates as a symbolic resolution of realities that are undesirable, uncontrollable, or unbearable has gained considerable currency in fields as diverse as Marxist criticism and Lacanian psychoanalysis. What has received less attention is that narratives largely lose their effectiveness when their symbolic nature is uncovered, when the resolutions they offer are revealed to be ''merely'' symbolic. Acts of Fiction demonstrates how narratives operate under cover, negotiating problematic realities while masking their rhetorical strategies.

Scott Carpenter shows how the restructuring of society in postrevolutionary France (1795–1869) triggered a variety of narrative attempts to come to terms with social, political, and epistemological shifts. While identifying four modes of writing in works by Sade, Balzac, Nerval, and Baudelaire, Carpenter studies the entanglements of literature and history, demonstrating how narratives were used to re-engineer the cultural imagination. Acts of Fiction draws on popular culture, iconography, science, philosophy, and politics and is informed by a wide range of critics, including Foucault, Chambers, Terdiman, Jameson, and Petrey.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271014494
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1995
  • Series: Studies in Romance Literatures
  • Pages: 190
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Carpenter is Associate Professor of French at Carleton College.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
A Note on Translations
Introduction
1 Traveling Miscognito: Revolution and Symbolic Resolution 1
2 Viral Fictions: Sade and the Pox of Libertinism 43
3 Politics and Paleontology: Reading the Past in Balzac's Colonel Chabert and Cesar Birotteau 67
4 Traveling from the Orient to Aurelia: Nerval Looks for the Words 101
5 The Esthetic Mask: Irony and Allegory in Baudelaire's Spleen de Paris 125
Conclusion 149
Appendix: "Le Mauvais Vitrier" 155
Works Cited 161
Index 169
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