Review by Choice Review
Gluck (history and comparative literature, Brown Univ.) argues that the literary and artistic "high culture" of 19th-century France cannot be understood in isolation from the realm of "popular culture" to which it frequently turned for inspiration. While this is not as novel an insight today as it might have been a few decades ago, Gluck's overview of the Parisian literati from Balzac and Gautier to Gauguin and Loti is a well-written and interesting survey. The author draws heavily on critical theory, particularly the Frankfurt School, and the most interesting and novel aspect of her book, in this reviewer's opinion, is the contention that 19th-century artists were not antimodern aesthetes who rejected the marketplace, as they often presented themselves, but rather were themselves the products of the new consumer culture, liberated by the freedom and anonymity of the urban crowd. Gluck also insightfully historicizes the figure of the romantic bohemian, demonstrating how this figure, a product of the 1830s, was repeatedly reinvented by new generations of artists. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. D. A. Harvey New College of Florida
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.