Art for Art's Sake and Literary Life: How Politics and Markets Helped Shape the Ideology and Culture of Aestheticism, 1790?1990

Gene H. Bell-Villada, Author University of Nebraska Press $60 (342p) ISBN 978-0-8032-1260-2
In his lucid, humane history, Bell-Villada, professor of Romance languages and literatures at Williams College and author of Garcia Marquez: The Man and His Work, describes the history of l'art pour l'art, the notion that beauty, divorced from utility and morality, is a desirable end in itself. He traces the idea from (mis)readings of Kant and Schiller through Theophile Gautier, Walter Pater, Edgar Allen Poe and Latin American Modernismo to the New Critics and Paul de Man. Some of this genealogy has been investigated before, but Bell-Villada brings both a readable style and a wide knowledge of literature, social influences, politics and markets to his story. The invention of paint tubes and prefabricated canvases in the first half of the 19th century and the academicization of criticism and literary life in the middle of this one share space with a thorough reconsideration of Joyce's presumed aestheticism. The general reader will find succinct background material on all the germane people, concepts and contexts. There are some peculiarities: Bell-Villada goes far out of his way just to apply a rather lame market analogy to Modernism, and his bilious analysis of Nabokov's work is likely to raise some hackles. But overall, this is a wide-ranging, erudite, well-written study with a refreshing disdain for doctrine. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
Show other formats
FORMATS
Paperback - 342 pages - 978-0-8032-6143-3
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.