Spoiled Distinctions: Aesthetics and the Ordinary in French Modernism (Hardback)Hannah Freed-Thall (author)
Hardback 224 Pages / Published: 08/10/2015
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Spoiled Distinctions investigates crises of evaluation in twentieth-century France. Taking Marcel Proust as its central figure, the book theorizes the disorienting force of everyday aesthetic experience. In a series of surprising readings, Hannah Freed-Thall frees Proust from his reputation as the most refined of high modernists. The author of In Search of Lost Time appears here as a journalist and newspaper enthusiast, a literary ventriloquist and connoisseur of popular scandals, and a writer attentive to the unsophisticated phenomenology of the here and now. The final chapters of the book consider the legacy of Proust's experiments with inestimable worth. Authors Francis Ponge, Nathalie Sarraute, and Yasmina Reza also explore the underside of cultural distinction. With Proust, they elaborate modernist variations on the beautiful and sublime-from nuance to the "whatever" and from the awkward to the sickly-sweet. Spoiled Distinctions thus revitalizes the critical discourse on aesthetics. Mapping the intersection of phenomenology, aesthetic theory, and the sociology of culture, the book reveals how enchanting the ordinary can be.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 438 g
Dimensions: 239 x 168 x 21 mm
"Spoiled Distinctions is a sparkling work of criticism that illuminates the intriguing constellation of Proust, Sarraute, Ponge and Reza, drawing our attention to the role of the ordinary, the botched and the inarticulate in the work of these writers. Freed-Thall writes crisply, demonstrating an eye for nuance and detail of the very sort that characterizes the writers she so revealingly explores." --Adam Watt, author of Marcel Proust
"Spoiled Distinctions is an engaging, beautifully written, convincingly argued, and original study of aesthetic disorientation in French modernism. Freed-Thall has a gift for pithy and striking formulations that encapsulate arguments, and stay with the reader." --Alison James, author of Constraining Chance: Georges Perec and the Oulipo
"Spoiled Distinctions is in fact a book of remarkable freshness. With delighted, near-obsessive attention to detail and a sophisticated awareness of historical milieu, Hannah Freed-Thall explores the surfaces of works by Marcel Proust, Francis Ponge, Nathalie Sarraute, and Yasmina Reza. She brings the worlds of these great modernists into our presence and shows us how the value of their work is built upon the creation of new terms of valuing." --Susan Stewart, author of The Poet's Freedom: A Notebook on Making
"This is an exceptional book about the unexceptional, the botched, the flawed, and the imperfect. Original and illuminating, the volume considers French modernism and its fascination with the thoroughly unremarkable: everyday incidents and encounters, modest means of enjoyment, and commonplace objects like coffee-table statuettes, glasses of tap water, spots, and soap...Summing Up: Essential." --CHOICE
.."indispensable..." Zakir Paul, Critical Inquiry
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