Longing to Belong: The Parvenu in Nineteenth-Century French and German Literature

Overview

Rising from humble origins to a position of preeminence, galvanized by the possibilities for financial gains made possible by the 'age of capital,' multitudes of social climbers appeared, 'on the make,' bent on conquering society's upper reaches by whatever means available. Yet making it is not the same as fitting in: an emblematic figure of the 'bourgeois century', the parvenu represents the Other on which a society depends. This drama of exclusion is symptomatic of nineteenth-century society as a whole - ...

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Longing to Belong: The Parvenu in Nineteenth-Century French and German Literature

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Overview

Rising from humble origins to a position of preeminence, galvanized by the possibilities for financial gains made possible by the 'age of capital,' multitudes of social climbers appeared, 'on the make,' bent on conquering society's upper reaches by whatever means available. Yet making it is not the same as fitting in: an emblematic figure of the 'bourgeois century', the parvenu represents the Other on which a society depends. This drama of exclusion is symptomatic of nineteenth-century society as a whole - ambivalent about social mobility and the meaning of social advancement, oscillating between a new sense of opportunity for all and a backward-looking retrenchment to rigid social structures. The parvenu allows us to decipher a culture and its prejudices, its fears and its difficulty in negotiating the advent of modernity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Longing to Belong is a perceptive and engaging addition to the scholarly conversation about the restructuring of national identity in the post-revolutionary era." - Kristin Samuelian, Associate Professor of English, George Mason University, USA

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sarah Juliette Sasson currently teaches at Sciences Po and at Reid Hall, Columbia University. Her research includes work on nineteenth-century fiction; on the self-representation of blue-stocking writers, on the poetics of epidemics and on collective memory.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures ix

Acknowledgments xi

Prologue xiii

Introduction 1

1 Theory of the Parvenu 9

2 Sartorial Stories: At the Fringes of the Social Sphere 39

3 The Poetics of Identity 67

4 The Fiction of Accomplishment 83

5 Topography of Conquest 101

6 A Strange Bestiary: Alterity and the Question of Humanity 125

Conclusion 147

Notes 151

Bibliography 191

Index 203

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