Spoiled Distinctions: Aesthetics and the Ordinary in French Modernism

Hardcover | September 29, 2015

byHannah Freed-Thall

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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 asthe 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 - fromnuance 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.

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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 asthe most refined of high modernists. The au...

Hannah Freed-Thall is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9.29 × 6.42 × 0.59 inPublished:September 29, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190201029

ISBN - 13:9780190201029

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart One: Aesthetic Disorientation in Proust1. Prestige2. Babble3. NuancePart Two: Mid-Century Experiments4. Profanation in Ponge5. Sarraute's Bad Taste6. AfterwordNotes

Editorial Reviews

"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. Shebrings 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