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The Sentimental Education of the Novel

By (author) Margaret Cohen
Format: Hardback
Language: English
Publisher: Princeton University Press, New Jersey, United States
Published: 29th Aug 1999
Dimensions: w 152mm h 229mm d 21mm
Weight: 482g
ISBN-10: 0691006482
ISBN-13: 9780691006482
Barcode No: 9780691006482
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, it is true that French realism, as developed by Balzac and Stendhal, was one of the most influential novelistic forms 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 dominated by women writers. Cohen draws on impressive archival research to demonstrate that the codes most closely identified with realism were actually the invention of sentimentality, although Balzac and Stendhal trivialized sentimental works by associating them with "frivolous" women writers and readers.

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"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