The classic realist text has long been derided by post-structuralist critics as an unsophisticated and reactionary form. In this study, first published 1992, John Rignall makes a powerful case for the rehabilitation of realism as a self-aware and reflexive genre. Using the novels of Scott, Balzac, Dickens, George Eliot, Flaubert, James, Ford and Conrad, Rignall argues for an understanding of realism through the recurrent figure of the flâneur. The flâneur is the strolling spectator whose problematic vision both of and in the novel makes him the representative figure of the realist text. A significant contribution to the field, this title will be of particular view to students of realism, literary theory, and comparative literature.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments; List of illustrations; A note on translations and abbreviations; 1. Introduction: The realist spectator and the problems of vision 2. Benjamin’s Flâneur and Poe’s ‘Man of the Crowd’ 3. Scott and the Spectacle of History 4. Balzac: The alienated gaze 5. Bleak House: The flâneur’s perspective and the discovery of the body 6. L’Education Sentimentale: The blank gaze and the weakened personality 7. Vision and Frame in Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda 8. The Ambassadors and The Good Soldier: American observers and the commodity of European life 9. The Secret Agent: Metropolitan life and the problems of form 10. Modern Metamorphoses of the Flâeur; Notes; A short bibliography of secondary works; Index