Literature and Material Culture from Balzac to Proust

Literature and Material Culture from Balzac to Proust : The Collection and Consumption of Curiosities

4.25 (4 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Series edited by 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days
When will my order arrive?


This book addresses the issues of collecting, consuming, classifying and describing the curiosities, antiques and objets d'art that proliferated in French literary texts during the last decades of the nineteenth century. After Balzac made such issues significant in canonical literature, the Goncourt brothers, Huysmans, Mallarme and Maupassant celebrated their golden age. Flaubert and Zola scorned them. Rachilde and Lorrain perverted them. Proust commemorated their last moments of glory. Focusing on the bibelot (the modern French term for knick-knack, curiosity or other collectible), Janell Watson shows how the sudden prominence given to curiosities and collecting in nineteenth-century literature signals a massive change in attitudes to the world of goods, which in turn restructured the literary text according to the practical logic of daily life, calling into question established scholarly notions of order. Her study makes an important contribution to the literary history of material culture.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 244 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 14mm | 360g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Worked examples or Exercises
  • 052102546X
  • 9780521025461
  • 1,964,516

Table of contents

Acknowledgments; Introduction; 1. The bibelot: a nineteenth-century object; 2. The logic(s) of material culture: imitation, accumulation, and mobility; 3. The fashionable artistic interior: social (re)encoding in the domestic sphere; 4. Flaubert's 'Musees recus': Bouvard and Pecuchet's consumerist epistemology; 5. Narrate, describe, or catalogue? The inventory form in Balzac, the Goncourts, and Huysmans; 6. The parlour of critical theory: Reading dwelling space across disciplines; 7. Rearranging the Oedipus: fantastic and decadent floor-plans in Gautier, Maupassant, Lorrain, and Rachilde; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
show more

Review quote

"a complex and fascinating story...a memorable book that is indispensable for readers interested in the study of consumer culture and in the connection between realism and cultural production in the nineteenth century." L'Esprit Createur
show more

Rating details

4 ratings
4.25 out of 5 stars
5 25% (1)
4 75% (3)
3 0% (0)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X