The Love Affair as a Work of Art

The Love Affair as a Work of Art

by Dan Hofstadter
     
 

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In this marvelously original book, Dan Hofstadter shows how a great treasure of forgotten personal writing—diaries, memoirs, and letters written by George Sand, Anatole France, and Marcel Proust, among others—bears on the erotic lives of the writers, and how the fine French tradition of conducting love affairs developed as an art form. As his subtle

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Overview

In this marvelously original book, Dan Hofstadter shows how a great treasure of forgotten personal writing—diaries, memoirs, and letters written by George Sand, Anatole France, and Marcel Proust, among others—bears on the erotic lives of the writers, and how the fine French tradition of conducting love affairs developed as an art form. As his subtle analysis makes clear, the love letters exchanged in a series of highly charged liaisons also suggested the themes of celebrated future novels.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A fascinating account of the great love affairs of the French 19th century and their evolution from letters and journals into even greater literature . . . An excellent book.”—Louis Auchincloss, The Wall Street Journal

“Evokes a 19th-century world in which love letters were an art form [and] raises questions about the vexing relation between art and life . . . a pleasure to read.”—Victor Brombert, The New York Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW called this study of famous 19th-century French love affairs "deliciously gossipy." (June)
Library Journal
The French elevated the love letter to rapturous heights from the 17th through the 19th centuries, culminating in epistolary chefs-d'oeuvre like Montesquieu's Lettres persanes and Laclos's Les liaisons dangereuses. In this enraptured study Hofstadter (Goldberg's Angel, Farrar, 1994) rakes through the correspondence of several famous pairs-Benjamin Constant and Germaine de Stal; Juliette Rcamier and Chateaubriand; George Sand and Alfred de Musset; Anatole France and Lontine de Caillavet; and Marcel Proust and Jeanne Pouquet-whose fleeting passion inspired immortal works of literature. Hofstadter conveys the sheer glee he has taken in digging into dusty volumes of letters and diaries; he trots out personages long entombed and breathlessly synthesizes a whole canon of literary criticism. Although he passes swift judgment on some of the figures involved-Madame Rcamier's talents are ``those of a really good present-day talk-show hostess'' and George Sand is obsessed with her ``mythomania''-Hofstadter's verve is irresistible. A pleasant enticement to the study of French literature.-Amy Boaz, ``Library Journal''

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374524852
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
03/08/2004
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)

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