The Myth of Popular Culture: From Dante to Dylan / Edition 1

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In this fascinating examination of popular culture, esteemed cultural critic Perry Meisel shatters conventionally held notions about the division between "high" and "low" culture with the provocative theory that popular culture has sustained dialectical rhythms. Meisel's deft critical analysis of three enduring cultural traditions - the American novel, Hollywood, and British and American rock music - leads us to question the very concept of the division between "high" and "low" culture.

Meisel begins his engaging discussion by refuting philosopher Theodor Adorno's assertion that "high" culture is "dialectical" and "pop" is not, showing that popular culture does indeed have a conversation both with its sources and with cultural authority as a whole. In the final section, Meisel turns his attention to Bob Dylan, a figure who, more than any other, shows what it means to synthesize and revise all traditions - music, poetry, iconography - and transform them completely.

Brilliantly conceived and clearly articulated, The Myth of Popular Culture from Dante to Dylan redefines the way in which we think about all forms of artistic expression.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“Perry Meisel’s study of popular culture is a surprising enhancement of received opinion and common wisdom on that vexed subject. Moving from Shakespeare through Freud on to Bobby Dylan would seem something of a descent, yet Meisel provides a perspective that has its own descriptive justice. Even if I am not wholly persuaded that Dylan’s ultimate importance is as sublime as Meisel ventures it to be, I am given much here to intrigue me.”
—Harold Bloom

“Perry Meisel has written a boundary-smashing critique of the myth that popular culture is distinct from and inferior to the fine arts.”
—Richard Goldstein, Hunter College of the City University of New York

"... stunning in its originality, breadth, erudition, and in its understanding of the transatlantic evolution of popular culture."
—Josephine G. Hendin, New York University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405199339
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/12/2010
  • Series: Wiley-Blackwell Manifestos Series, #28
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Perry Meisel is Professor of English at New York University. His books include The Myth of the Modern (1987), The Cowboy and the Dandy (1999), and The Literary Freud (2007). He has also written widely for publications that include The Village Voice, The New York Times, Partisan Review, and October.

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Table of Contents

Preface: The Resistance to Pop

Pt. I "The Battle of the Brows"

1 A History of High and Low

2 Pop Culture in the Spectator

3 Pop and Postmodernism

Pt. II Dialectics of Pop

4 The Death of Kings: American Fiction from Cooper

5 Knock on Any Door: Three Histories of Hollywood

6 The Blues Misreading of Gospel: A History

Pt. III The World of Bob Dylan

7 Dylan and the Critics

8 Words and Music

9 Dylan Himself

10 The Three Icons: Sinatra, Presley, Dylan

Works Cited


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