Dream of an Absolute Language: Emanuel Swedenborg and French Literary Culture

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Editorial Reviews

Wilkinson (Scandinavian and comparative literature, U. of Texas- Austin) traces the reception and popularization of several key doctrines of Swedenborg in French literature and popular culture of the late 18th and 19th centuries. He focuses on the doctrine of correspondences, challenging Foucault's assertion that during that period it was a complete break with representation. Instead, he says, it was related to the taxonomic structures of natural history and part of an effort to understand society in terms of an ordered and controllable totality. Parts of the book have been published as journal articles. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791429259
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1996
  • Pages: 332
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Swedenborg, French Culture, and the Dream of an Absolute Language 1
Ch. 1 Politics, Magic, and Language: Swedenborgianism in the Works of Alphonse-Louis Constant, a.k.a. Eliphas Levi 19
Two Names, One Career: From Alphonse-Louis Constant to Eliphas Levi 21
Constant/Levi's "Les correspondances" 24
Echoes of "Les correspondances" in Constant/Levi's prose 27
Magic, Politics, and Duplicity: Constant/Levi's Dogme et rituel de la haute magie 31
Language, Mesmerism, and Charisma: The Preface to the 1861 Edition of Dogme et rituel de la haute magie and Histoire de la magie 37
Ch. 2 Swedenborg's Correspondences and the Cultures of the Enlightenment 55
The Worlds of Emanuel Swedenborg 58
Swedenborg's Interpretation of Dreams: The Journal of 1743-44 68
The Word "Represent" in the Journal of 1743-44 91
Heaven and Hell: Utopian Spheres and the Pleasures of Reading 93
Ch. 3 Who Has the Word? Swedenborgianism and Popular Culture in France, 1780-1865 107
Swedenborgian Performances: Alphonse Cahagnet's Seances 109
Combien en durera cette societe? J.-F.-E. Le Boys des Guays and the French Swedenborgians 112
Language, Rituals, and Utopias: Eighteenth-Century Interpretations of Swedenborgianism in France 116
Hunger and Hallucinations: The Emigre Perspective 121
Eclecticism and Flanerie: The Interpretations of Edouard Richer and Guillaume Oegger 123
Beyond the Myth? Mid-Nineteenth-Century Accounts 135
Swedenborgianism and Popular Culture 141
Ch. 4 The Underside of History: Swedenborgianism and La comedie humaine 147
Swedenborgianism and Representation in La comedie humaine 148
Balzac's "Swedenborgianism" and Its Contexts 152
Desire and Tradition: The Other Worlds of Les etudes philosophiques 156
Through a Glass Darkly: Swedenborgianism in Les etudes de moeurs 194
Ch. 5 Baudelaire's Correspondence: Language, Censorship, and Mourning 217
A Volume of Swedenborg under his arm: Baudelaire and Swedenborgianism 220
Fictional Polarities and the Aesthete's Dilemma: Baudelaire's References to Swedenborg 223
Towards a Universal Language of Art? Baudelaire's Correspondances 239
Conclusion 249
Appendix: Baudelaire's "Correspondances" and Constant/Levi's "Les correspondances" 257
Notes 261
Works Cited 301
Index 321
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