The Gates of Horn: A Study of Five French Realists by Harry Levin

By Harry Levin

"The writer explores this practice extensive and defines it with a breadth of imaginative and prescient, a dynamic vigour and freedom hardly paralleled today....His process, versatile, beneficiant, humane within the top feel of the be aware, eschews pedantry, dogma, dead theorizing and scholastic argumentation."--The ny occasions ebook evaluate. "I desire to make it transparent that The Gates of Horn represents a very good severe accomplishment."--Saturday overview. within the Odyssey, Homer describes gates of the mind's eye: one in all ivory during which fictitious desires move, and the opposite of horn, by which not anything however the fact could move. Realism is the kind of literature that passes throughout the horn, and during this major examine of the style Levin examines a tremendous type of Realism--the French novel--and specializes in 5 of its masters--Stendahl, Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, and Proust. Now on hand in paperback, Levin's learn is a veritable reconstruction of the creative and highbrow lifetime of a country.

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As a vehicle for individualism, it was free to concentrate on character, with wider variety and richer detail than previous fiction. Previously, characterization had been regarded as a specialty of the comic stage. Tragedy, like the epic, had presented myths and idealized its protagonists. Comedy had dealt with private lives and urban types: misers, spendthrifts, parasites, courtesans, domestics. Measured by the exclusive decorum of the neo-classicists, its plane of behavior was low; its attitudes were those of the upper class toward the middle class, so memorably delineated in Moliere's Bourgeois gentilhomme.

In Robinson Crusoe, the first book that Rousseau recommended to his model pupil, Emile, man had asserted his mastery over things. While fiction moves from Balzac to Proust, things are in the saddle, riding mankind at a swifter and swifter pace. " Men and women would meanwhile have undergone a process of reification. " Social factors, in the system of Emile Durkheim, are virtually synonymous with les choses. Etymologically, realism is thing-ism. " This view presupposes a nominalistic theory of knowledge.

Poets have long been looked askance at as liars; in their defense it has been urged that their flattering myths could turn this brazen existence of ours into what Sir Philip Sidney called a golden world, such as that of his own romance, Arcadia. " Dr. Johnson explained allegorically that Truth, in order to vie with Falsehood in this world, must assume the garb of Fiction. The dangerous prevalence of imagination is for most of us, as it was for him, perennially alluring and suspect. Nor are we completely reassured by the neo-classic touchstone of vraisemblance, which has a tricky way of decomposing into the true and the seeming, vrai and semblance.

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