The Art of Scandal

The Art of Scandal : Modernism, Libel Law, and the Roman a Clef

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The Art of Scandal advances a relatively simple claim with far-reaching consequences for modernist studies; writers and readers throughout the early twentieth century revived the long-despised codes and habits of the roman a clef as a key part of that larger assault on Victorian realism we now call modernism. In the process, this resurgent genre took on a life of its own, reconfiguring the intricate relationship between literature, celebrity, and the law. Latham uses the genre to reconfigure modernism's development as a cultural practice diffused across texts and networks of reception and circulation in which they are embedded. Such a move means coming to terms with the ways in which producers as well as consumers used elements of the roman a clef to challenge fiction's apparent autonomy from the social and political world. This widespread process provoked not only a generative aesthetic crisis, but a gradually unfolding legal quandary that led Britain's highest courts to worry that fiction itself might be illegal. Writers like James Joyce, Jean Rhys, Oscar Wilde, and D.H. Lawrence deliberately employed elements of the roman a clef, only to find that it possessed an uncanny and even dangerous agency of its own-one that resonated through a complex system of publicity and constraint. Bringing these effects fully into view requires a mixture of close reading and archival excavation that proceeds here in chapters on the anonymous case study, Oscar Wilde's trial, libel law, celebrity salons, and Parisian bohemia. The Art of Scandal thus both salvages the roman a clef and traces its weird itinerary through the early twentieth century. In the process, it elaborates an expansive concept of modernism that interweaves coterie culture with the mass media, psychology with celebrity, and literature with the more

Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 162 x 236 x 22mm | 399.16g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195379993
  • 9780195379990
  • 1,432,635

Review quote

"Enormously valuable...Latham has clearly achieved a primary goal of The Art of Scandal, which has brought the roman a clef and libel law to the center of research in literary studies." --Clio"The Art of Scandal elevates the chronically depreciated roman a clef to its rightful place as a signature form of the novel. A shrewd, provocative and immensely engaging work, one that demands we revisit our assumptions about the values and methods of revolutionary modernists from Wilde and Freud to Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, Lawrence and Jean Rhys."--Maria DiBattista, Princeton University"This is an important book, a real contribution to both modernist studies and the theory of narrative. It is a smart, readable, original, and very convincing study of a form of narrative crucial to both the rise of the novel and the development of modernism."--Robert Scholes, Brown University"The Art of Scandal is a lively account of the modern roman a clef. Well informed, superbly written, and critically intelligent, Latham's study is always engaging as he explains the 'art of scandal, ' real and imagined."-Thomas F. Staley, The University of Texas at Austin"A taut, well-researched study of a genre that has had an enormous influence on the development of the novel." --James Joyce Quarterly"Latham has made a valuable contribution not only to modernist studies with The Art of Scandal, but also to the field of law and literature. It's a great read, and a tribute to Latham's cleverness that he so artfully weaves in a sense of dramatic narrative to his insightful piece of literary criticism." --AmeriQuests"show more

About Sean Latham

Sean Latham is Associate Professor of English at The University of Tulsa and Editor of the James Joyce more

Table of contents

Series Editors' Foreword ; Acknowledgments ; CHAPTER I ; Introduction: Fact, Fiction, Pleasure ; CHAPTER II ; True Fictions and False Histories: The Secret Rise of the Roman a clef ; CHAPTER III ; Open Secrets and Hidden Truths: Wilde and Freud ; CHAPTER IV ; Libel: Policing the Laws of Fiction ; APPENDIX TO CHAPTER IV ; A Brief Digest of British and Irish Libel Law ; CHAPTER V ; The Novel at the Bar: Joyce, Lewis, and Libel ; CHAPTER VI ; The Coterie as Commodity: Huxley, Lawrence, Rhys and the Business of Revenge ; APPENDIX ; A Select Bibliography of the Modernist Roman a Clefshow more

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