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The Bourgeois: Between History and Literature [Hardcover]

Franco Moretti

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Book Description

18 Jun 2013
'The bourgeois ... Not so long ago, this notion seemed indispensable to social analysis; these days, one might go years without hearing it mentioned. Capitalism is more powerful than ever, but its human embodiment seems to have vanished. 'I am a member of the bourgeois class, feel myself to be such, and have been brought up on its opinions and ideals,' wrote Max Weber, in 1895. Who could repeat these words today? Bourgeois 'opinions and ideals' - what are they?' Thus begins Franco Moretti's study of the bourgeois in modern European literature - a major new analysis of the once-dominant culture and its literary decline and fall. Moretti's gallery of individual portraits is entwined with the analysis of specific keywords - 'useful' and 'earnest,' 'efficiency,' 'influence,' 'comfort,' 'roba' - and of the formal mutations of the medium of prose. From the 'working master' of the opening chapter, through the seriousness of nineteenth-century novels, the conservative hegemony of Victorian Britain, the "national malformations" of the Southern and Eastern periphery, and the radical self-critique of Ibsen's twelve-play cycle, the book charts the vicissitudes of bourgeois culture, exploring the causes for its historical weakness, and for its current irrelevance.

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The great iconoclast of literary criticism. --John Sutherland, Guardian

It's a rare literary critic who attracts so much public attention, and there's a good reason: few are as hellbent on rethinking the way we talk about literature --Times Literary Supplement

Moretti is already famous in bookish circles for his data-centric approach to novels, which he graphs, maps, and charts ... if his new methods catch on, they could change the way we look at literary history. --Wired

About the Author

FRANCO MORETTI teaches literature at Stanford, where he directs the Literary Lab. He is the author of Signs Taken for Wonders, The Way of the World, Modern Epic, Atlas of the European Novel 1800 - 1900, and Graphs, Maps, Trees.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and clear 15 Feb 2014
By Anushiya Ramaswamy - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Instead of beginning with Marx (he gets around to him, halfway through, of course), Moretti begins with Defoe. A quick, bracing read -- to be read alongside Fredric Jameson's "The Antinomiis of Realism" (both out of Verso in 2013 -- thank you, Verso) -- Moretti moves effortlessly between the English classics of the Victorian era (both fiction and prose) and their French and Italian counterparts. Moretti's savvy critical readings of the master texts make you want to go and re-read "Middlemarch" and Matthew Arnold. Erudite, vastly entertaining, the energy of Moretti's style -- that of quick notes taken by an agile mind flicking between 19th century realist fiction and their secondary sources -- is a pleasure.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book 13 Sep 2013
By PV - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Moretti does a fantastic job weaving between great literature and historical context in which it was written in. I highly recommend! Wish it was longer, though. I felt like some areas could have been expanded on.
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