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Glamour: A History
     

Glamour: A History

by Stephen Gundle
 

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Glamour is one of the most tantalizing and bewitching aspects of contemporary culture - but also one of the most elusive. The aura of celebrity, the style of the fashion world, the vanity of the rich and beautiful, and the publicity-driven rites of café society are all imbued with its irresistible magnetism. But what exactly is glamour? Where does it come from?

Overview

Glamour is one of the most tantalizing and bewitching aspects of contemporary culture - but also one of the most elusive. The aura of celebrity, the style of the fashion world, the vanity of the rich and beautiful, and the publicity-driven rites of café society are all imbued with its irresistible magnetism. But what exactly is glamour? Where does it come from? How old is it? And can anyone quite capture its magic? Stephen Gundle answers all these questions and more in this first ever history of the phenomenon, from Paris in the tumultuous final decades of the eighteenth century through to Hollywood, New York, and Monte Carlo in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, from Napoleon to Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe, from Beau Brummell to Gianni Versace. Throughout, the book captures the excitement and sex appeal of glamour while exposing its mechanisms and exploring its sleazy and sometimes tragic underside. As Gundle shows, while glamour is exciting and magnetic, its promise is ultimately an illusion that can only ever be partially fulfilled.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Herwitz (humanities, Univ. of Michigan; Aesthetics: Key Concepts in Philosophy) examines some complex explanations for the role of celebrity in popular culture. Referring to numerous examples of celebrity icons (e.g., Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly), he pays particular attention to Princess Diana, who embodied many of the divergent facets of an icon in modern society-eliciting high public admiration yet prompting a media obsession with her personal problems and tragedies. Herwitz skillfully analyzes the tightly interwoven components of this pattern, citing relationships to television, film, and escalating consumerism-all playing a role in the building up and tearing down of icons, a process that loses sight of the celebrity as an individual. Herwitz approaches the subject with intelligence and fine scholarship and offers much to think about.

Yet another tantalizing element of the celebrity mystique is glamour-a maddeningly indefinable quality sought by many but seemingly attainable by only a few. Gundle (film & television studies, Warwick Univ.; Bellissima: Feminine Beauty and the Idea of Italy) takes an expansive look at glamour from past to present in a narrative rich with captivating details and commentary. He examines the many categories in which glamour is measured-wealth, sex appeal, beauty, spectacle, daring, urban sophistication, professions, and products. He discusses its arbiters-photographers, major magazines, writers-and some of its diverse symbols through time such as Marie Antoinette, Marlene Dietrich, Gianni Versace, and Princess Diana, setting their historical context and discussing their eccentricities, excesses, and style-setting trends. Gundlesums up glamour as a look, action, or way of life more fascinating and colorful than that of its audience. Both of these books are essential for those with a keen interest in the sociology of popular culture and stardom.
—Carol J. Binkowski

From the Publisher
"This book captures the tantalizing appeal of glamour while exposing its sleazy underside."—The Standard

"Well researched and thoughtfully written, this book manages to be an excellent read and will appeal to anyone interested in popular culture."—Sarah Jenkins, The Guardian

"Gundle is brilliant at the old razzle-dazzle."—Veronica Horwell, Saturday Guardian

"This book is a thoroughly comprehensive and meticulously researched history of glamour."—Times Literary Supplement

"A narrative rich with captivating details and commentary.... Essential for those with a keen interest in the sociology of popular culture and stardom."—Library Journal

"A substantial book about an insubstantial, yet somehow fascinating, topic."—The Independent

"Well-researched and thoughtfully written, this book manages to be an excellent read and will to anyone interested in popular culture."—Books Quarterly

"Glamour: A History is on the whole a wonderfully engaging read."—Otago Daily Times

"The book captures the excitement and sex appeal of glamour while exposing its mechanisms and exploring its sleazy and sometimes tragic underside. As Gundle shows, while glamour is exciting and magnetic, its promise is ultimately an illusion that can only ever be partially fulfilled."—Irish Mail on Sunday

"[A] pathbreaking study...Gundle has written the first general history of what has become a central drive of our contemporary consumer culture and its expressions in the popular culture that accompanies it." — Journal of Social History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780191623370
Publisher:
OUP Oxford
Publication date:
07/16/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Stephen Gundle is Professor of Film and Television Studies at Warwick University, having previously taught at Royal Holloway, University of London and both Oxford and Cambridge universities. He has written widely about Italian and European culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, his work focusing especially on the mass media, the cultural aspects of politics and fashion, and the impact of American modernity on European popular culture.

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