Fact and Symbol

Fact and Symbol : Essays in the Sociology of Art and Literature

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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 147.32 x 210.82 x 22.86mm | 385.55g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 0195012852
  • 9780195012859

Review Text

Cesar Grana, whose Bohemian versus Bourgeois attempted to provide a comprehensive sociological explanation for the anti-middle class posturing of Flaubert, Stendhal and Baudelaire, pursues the peregrinations of the Romantic mind to present-day America and reaches the not-so-startling conclusion that certain stereotyped Romantic attitudes (disdain for materialism, scepticism toward all notions of progress, rejection of the Protestant work ethic) survive intact in the contemporary figure of the Hipster. Grana summons de Tocqueville, Mill and C. P. Snow among others to testify to the queasiness of the literary mind before the forces of technology, mass literary markets and popular democracy - again, not exactly a controversial thesis. Somewhat paradoxically, Grana's essay on the Impressionists takes sharp issue with Arnold Hauser's view that they represented the "overstrained nerves of modern technological man," pointing out, quite correctly, that late nineteenth century France was neither a technocracy nor a highly rationalized capitalist society. The suggestion that the visual arts were immune from the bourgeois phobia (certainly the case among the Impressionists who celebrated the most cultivated, gracious side of bourgeois life) is unfortunately not elaborated. Perhaps the most ambitious essay of the lot dissects the literary nationalism of the Latin American intelligentsia (Octavio Paz, Jose Marti, Ricardo Rojas) as an obscurantist blend of racism and metaphysics which Grana links to the familiar romantic impulse to see in power and material abundance sure symptoms of spiritual torpor. In Latin America Grana succeeds in getting some new mileage out of the old Bourgeois versus Bohemian quarrel. (Kirkus Reviews)show more