Cover: Popular Bohemia: Modernism and Urban Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris, from Harvard University PressCover: Popular Bohemia in PAPERBACK

Popular Bohemia

Modernism and Urban Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris

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$35.00 • £30.95 • €31.95

ISBN 9780674027312

Publication Date: 03/01/2008


238 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

41 engravings


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This is a book worth grappling with. The larger argument will set historians of modern art and literature to pondering, and readers will find here a trove of insightful readings and interesting details in the byways of nineteenth-century Parisian culture.—Gregory Shaya, Journal of Modern History

Gluck is a fine intellectual historian whose first book on Lukács was in every way a triumph of scholarship. Her new book, Popular Bohemia, is at the same level and may even exceed her earlier work in terms of originality.—Walter Adamson, author of Avant-Garde Florence: From Modernism to Fascism

Gluck’s book is a wonderfully conceived contribution to the overhaul of our understanding of modernism that has been in full swing in many fields for some time now. Our view of literary modernism, she argues, has been distorted by taking the aloof figure of the aesthete, and self-referential art, at the turn of the twentieth century as the ostensible end-points in the emergence of modernism, and then by looking back to romanticism to trace their genealogy. She challenges this view on a number of counts: it misinterprets the figure of the modernist artist as someone estranged from commercial society and public culture; it obscures our appreciation of ‘the transient, the commercial and popular forms of modernism’; and it ignores the lineage of realism in the making of modernism. It is not only that there is a lot of non-canonical modernist popular culture out there; others have said that, and she draws on their work judiciously. More interestingly, she is claiming that we misunderstand canonical figures such as Gautier, Baudelaire, and Huysmans unless we take their relationship to the ‘mass cultural public sphere’ into account. Modernism is rooted in a ‘theatrical and public vision,’ not a withdrawal into interiority. The avant-garde project is the legitimate heir of an earlier, publicly oriented culture, not a retreat from it.—John McCole, author of Walter Benjamin and the Antinomies of Tradition

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