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In Literature, Art and the Pursuit of Decay, Timothy Mathews examines work by a range of writers and painters working in France in the twentieth century. The well-illustrated book engages with canonical figures - Guillaume Apollinaire, Marguerite Duras and Jean Genet, Roland Barthes, Pablo Picasso and Rene Magritte - as well as more neglected individuals including Robert Desnos and Jean Fautrier. Mathews draws on psychoanalysis, existentialism and poststructuralism to show how both literature and fine art promote the value of generosity in a culture of anxiety and intolerance. Decay emerges as a surprising ally in this quest because of its ability to undermine intellectual complacency and egoism. Integrating theoretical and material approaches to reading and viewing, Mathews engages with the distinctive features of different literary genres and different types of painting to develop an original history of artistic ambition in twentieth-century France.
Cambridge University Press
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