Text, Image, and the Problem with Perfection in Nineteenth-Century France  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Text, Image, and the Problem With Perfection in Nineteenth-century France: Utopia and Its Afterlives by Daniel Sipe.

From the publisher:

In the decades after the French Revolution, philosophers, artists, and social scientists set out to chart and build a way to a new world and their speculative blueprints circulated like banknotes in a parallel economy of ideas. Examining representations of ideal societies in nineteenth-century French culture, Daniel Sipe argues that the "dream-image" of the literary or art-historical utopia does not disappear but rather is profoundly altered by its proximity to the social utopianism of the day. Sipe focuses on this persistent afterlife in utopias ranging from Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand's Amerindian utopia in Atala (1801) to the utopian spoof of J.J. Grandville's illustrated novel Un autre monde (1844). He proposes a new reading of Etienne Cabet's seminal utopian novel, Voyage en Icarie (1840) and offers an original perspective on the gendered utopias of technological inspiration that authors such as Charles Barbara and Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam penned in the second half of the century. In addition, Sipe considers utopias or important "readings" of the century's rampant utopianism in, among others, Victor Hugo, Alfred de Vigny, Theophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, and Gustave Courbet. His book provides the historical context for comprehending the significance and implications of this enigmatic afterlife in nineteenth-century utopian art and literature.




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