The Gates Of Horn: A Study Of Five French Realists

Levin, Harry

Published by Oxford University Press, 1963
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Bibliographic Details


Title: The Gates Of Horn: A Study Of Five French ...

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Publication Date: 1963

Binding: hardcover

Edition: 1st Edition.

Description:

New York. 1963. Oxford University Press. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Slightly Worn Dustjacket. 554 pages. hardcover. Jacket Design By Muriel Nasser. keywords: Literary Criticism France Literature. inventory # 34600. FROM THE PUBLISHER - Homer, in the Odyssey, describes two gates of the imagination: one of ivory, through which fictitious dreams pass, and the other of horn, which lets out nothing but the truth. The kind of literature that passes through the gates of horn is commonly known as realism, and in this significant study a leading American critic examines a major form of realism, the French novel, and defines the term more precisely than has ever been done before. This book focuses on five master novelists-Stendhal, Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, and Proust-who sustained a great tradition, in succeeding generations, from the time of the French Revolution into our own day. It is Professor Levin’s contention that this tradition has been the characteristic expression of bourgeois society and that it represents an important commentary on the greatness and the decline of the middle class. Through successive chapters, Harry Levin subjects the personality and work of each novelist to close analysis. Stendhal is seen as a child of the Enlightenment whose ‘bright expectancy’ in the Napoleonic Revolution was shattered by events, and whose disillusionment produced two masterpieces, The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma. Balzac, instead of concerning himself with individual character as Stendhal had done, took in the whole sweep of society; his panorama of the money-minded world of Louis-Philippe in his many-volumed Comédie humaine succeeded in ‘making a business of art and dramatizing the romance of business.’ Flaubert, ironically aloof from his society, exemplified the watchword of his time, ‘France is bored,’ and his country’s dissatisfaction with itself found its perfected expression in Madame Bovary. Flaubert succeeded in ‘consecrating that upstart genre,’ the novel, and bringing it under the strict control of artistic technique. Zola created a new term, ‘naturalism,’ and reacted against the inequities of his day by celebrating man in the mass and putting faith in the world of science and socialism which was coming into being at the end of the nineteenth century. Proust was the ultimate recluse who commented on his disintegrating society, and sought universal truths through self-analysis, with a conscious technique which made him Flaubert’s heir, the last of the literary mandarins. These five novelists are realists, because, in Levin’s words, ‘they are committed to a searching and scrupulous critique of life as they knew it.’ In his own searching investigation of their work, Levin puts more than the novels themselves under scrutiny, for he believes that ‘we have not analyzed a novel until we have discovered its place in the mind of the novelist, in the movement of the age, and in the tradition of literature.’ His book is a veritable reconstruction of the artistic and intellectual life of a nation. Its narrative teems with people and ideas, and its discussion of individual novels and novelists employs the full resources of critical method. THE GATES OF HORN is a profound critique of a great line of writers. . Very Good In Slightly Worn Dustjacket. Bookseller Inventory # 34600

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