Dreams of Happiness: Social Art and the French Left, 1830-1850 by Neil McWilliamDreams of Happiness: Social Art and the French Left, 1830-1850 by Neil McWilliam

Dreams of Happiness: Social Art and the French Left, 1830-1850

byNeil McWilliam

Paperback | March 21, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 361 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Responding to the decline of the monarchy and the church in post-revolutionary France, theorists representing a wide spectrum of leftist ideologies proposed comprehensive blueprints for society that assigned a crucial role to aesthetics. In this full-length investigation of social romanticism, Neil McWilliam explores the profound impact of radical philosophies on contemporary aesthetics and art criticism, and traces efforts to conscript the arts for doctrinal ends. He highlights the complexity and diversity of systems such as Saint-Simonianism, Fourierism, Republicanism, and Christian Socialism--movements that set out to exploit the ameliorative effect of aesthetic form on human consciousness--and challenges the previous linking of social art to narrow didacticism. This book seeks an understanding both of the conventions of artistic judgment and reception and of the aims and significance of radical political ideologies. Drawing on a broad spectrum of previously neglected journalistic criticism, visual material, and archival sources, together with key political texts by figures such as Saint-Simon, Philippe Buchez, and Pierre Leroux, this work reveals an important facet of radical history and modifies received understandings of French art in the wake of Romanticism. In the process it probes the role of culture within oppositional political practice, arguing that the ultimate failure to realize a social art exposes the limits of the radicals' break with dominant discourse and their hesitancy in forging links with a culturally disenfranchised working class.

Originally published in 1993.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Title:Dreams of Happiness: Social Art and the French Left, 1830-1850Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9.25 × 6 × 0 inPublished:March 21, 2017Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:069160150X

ISBN - 13:9780691601502

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



Ch. 1 Introduction 3

Radical Perspectives 7

The Aesthetic Dimension 16

Ch. 2 Saint-Simon and the Promotion of a Social Aesthetic 31

Science, Progress, and the Intellectual 32

Art, Sentiment, and the Promotion of Industry 38

Art as Social Exhortation 44

Ch. 3 From Positivism to Sentiment: The Aesthetics of Saint-Simonianism 54

The Reassertion of Positivism: Le Producteur 57

Prosper Enfantin and the Rehabilitation of Sentiment 59

Historical Theory and the Social History of Art 66

Assessments of Contemporary Production 71

Toward a New Conception of Form 74

Ch. 4 Theory into Practice: The Frustration of Saint-Simonian Aesthetics 89

The Saint-Simonian Constituency 90

Marginality and Mal du siecle 92

From Menilmontant to Cairo 104

Why Were There No Great Saint-Simonian Artists? 116

Ch. 5 Sentiment and Faith: Philippe Buchez and His Circle 123

The Primacy of Faith 124

History of Faith and History of Art 131

History as Synthesis and Prevision 140

"Sentiment," "Education," and "Art" 148

Ch. 6 Pierre Leroux and the Aesthetics of Humanite 165

Psychological Theory and the Status of the Artist 167

Nature, Art, and the Symbol 177

Pierre Leroux and Theophile Thore 181

Ch. 7 The Beauty of Happiness: Art Social and Fourierist Criticism 188

Harmony, Beauty, and Happiness 191

Prophecy, Luxury, and Nature 198

Reception and the Meaning of Form 210

Line, Color, and the Principles of Harmony 222

The Failings of Art and the Task of the Critic 231

Critical Positions and Artistic Production: Problems of Practice 241

Ch. 8 Vision and Virtue: The Aesthetics of Republicanism 267

The Necessity of Virtue 268

The Moralization of Nature 280

Antiacademicism and the Politics of Truth 289

Meaning and Modernity 302

Ch. 9 Conclusion 315

Class and the Snare of Culture 315

From Social Art to Socialist Realism 333

Bibliography 347

Index 377