The Sentimental Education of the Novel

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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 takeover" of a prestigious contemporary sentimental practice of the novel, which was almost completely dominated by women writers.. "Cohen draws on 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.
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Editorial Reviews

Nineteenth-Century French Studies
Carefully crafted, Cohen's book makes a persuasive argument about the relative value of prose realism and its chief rival in the sentimental social novel. Her book merits a large and appreciative audience of literary historians, theorists, and specialists in women's studies.
— James Allen Smith
European Legacy - Armand E. Singer
This is an important book. . . . Almost every page presents some salient point, proffers a useful fact, argues a question. . . . In short, a remarkable work, necessary, and highly recommended.
Nineteenth-Century French Studies - James Allen Smith
Carefully crafted, Cohen's book makes a persuasive argument about the relative value of prose realism and its chief rival in the sentimental social novel. Her book merits a large and appreciative audience of literary historians, theorists, and specialists in women's studies.
The Wordsworth Circle - G. Gabrielle Starr
[A] significant scholarly contribution.
French Review - John T. Booker
A serious, intelligent attempt to understand more fully the early development of the nineteenth-century French novel.
European Legacy
This is an important book. . . . Almost every page presents some salient point, proffers a useful fact, argues a question. . . . In short, a remarkable work, necessary, and highly recommended.
— Armand E. Singer
French Review
A serious, intelligent attempt to understand more fully the early development of the nineteenth-century French novel.
— John T. Booker
The Wordsworth Circle
[A] significant scholarly contribution.
— G. Gabrielle Starr
From the Publisher
Co-Winner of the 1999 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize, Modern Language Association

"This is an important book. . . . Almost every page presents some salient point, proffers a useful fact, argues a question. . . . In short, a remarkable work, necessary, and highly recommended."—Armand E. Singer, European Legacy

"Carefully crafted, Cohen's book makes a persuasive argument about the relative value of prose realism and its chief rival in the sentimental social novel. Her book merits a large and appreciative audience of literary historians, theorists, and specialists in women's studies."—James Allen Smith, Nineteenth-Century French Studies

"[A] significant scholarly contribution."—G. Gabrielle Starr, The Wordsworth Circle

"A serious, intelligent attempt to understand more fully the early development of the nineteenth-century French novel."—John T. Booker, French Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691095882
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/7/2002
  • 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
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Reconstructing the Literary Field
Ch. I Conflicting Duties: Sentimental Poetics
Ch. II The Novel Is a Young Man of Great Expectations: Realism against Sentimentality
Ch. III The Heart and the Code: George Sand and the Sentimental Social Novel
Ch. IV A Compromised Position: French Realism and the Femme Auteur
Select Bibliography
Index
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