The Sentimental Education of the Novel

The Sentimental Education of the Novel

by Margaret Cohen
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691095884

ISBN-13: 9780691095882

Pub. Date: 01/07/2002

Publisher: Princeton University Press

The nineteenth-century French novel has long been seen as the heroic production of great men, who confronted in their works the social consequences of the French Revolution. And it is true that French realism, especially as developed by Balzac and Stendhal, was one of the most influential novelistic forms ever invented. Margaret Cohen, however, challenges the

…  See more details below

Overview

The nineteenth-century French novel has long been seen as the heroic production of great men, who confronted in their works the social consequences of the French Revolution. And it is true that French realism, especially as developed by Balzac and Stendhal, was one of the most influential novelistic forms ever invented. Margaret Cohen, however, challenges the traditional account of the genesis of realism by returning Balzac and Stendhal to the forgotten novelistic contexts of their time. Reconstructing a key formative period for the novel, she shows how realist codes emerged in a "hostile take-over" of a prestigious contemporary sentimental practice of the novel, which was almost completely dominated by women writers.

Cohen draws on impressive archival research, resurrecting scores of forgotten nineteenth-century novels, to demonstrate that the codes most closely identified with realism were actually the invention of sentimentality, a powerful aesthetic of emerging liberal-democratic society, although Balzac and Stendhal trivialized sentimental works by associating them with "frivolous" women writers and readers. Attention to these gendered struggles over genre explains why women were not pioneers of realism in France during the nineteenth century, a situation that contrasts with England, where women writers played a formative role in inventing the modern realist novel. Cohen argues that to understand how literary codes respond to material factors, it is imperative to see how such factors take shape within the literary field as well as within society as a whole. The book also proposes that attention to literature as a social institution will help critics resolve the current, vital question of how to practice literary history in the wake of poststructuralism.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691095882
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/07/2002
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
232
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction Reconstructing the Literary Field

Out of the century's chaos 3

Realism in literary-political contexts 10

Genre is a social relation 16

Hors d'usage 20

Chapter I Conflicting Duties: Sentimental Poetics

What else is lost in Illusions perdues 26

Conflicting duties 34

The double bind of liberalism 40

Woman's destiny 46

A light touch 48

Few details, few manners, few portraits 50

Image of the heart 53

Sentimental blazon 54

". . ." 57

Beyond purely personal life 58

All should be clear 60

To interest, to instruct 62

Analysis of the heart 63

Oh torments of an uneasy conscience! 64

Tableau 65

A secure refuge 67

"Tragedy now is politics" (Napoleon, 1799) 70

Chapter II The Novel Is a Young Man of Great Expectations: Realism against Sentimentality

So women wrote under the Emperor? 77

Novels for chambermaids and salon novels 82

Woe to those who accept the social contract 87

An obstacle, a motive, a duty 90

A minor duty! A duty of little importance! 93

The way of the world 97

Just want it! 104

The goal of all her actions 106

What I understand as sacrifice 108

I write for men, not girls 112

Chapter III The Heart and the Code: George Sand and the Sentimental Social Novel

What will rule the novel? 119

The heart and the code 124

The tears of the oppressed 130

The political idea, the social idea 135

Victim of an unjust law 139

I am the slave and you the lord 143

The heart that directs her conduct 145

Huge heaps of manure 150

Physical and moral beauty's diverse and contrasting forms 153

The novelist is the real lawyer of abstract beings 155

Chapter IV A Compromised Position: French Realism and the Femme Auteur

He said, she said 163

The Muse of Limoges 165

"Rather death." "Rather life." 174

Une Fausse Position 185

Woman is the style 191

Select Bibliography 197

Index 211

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >