Gendered Lyric: Subjectivity and Difference in Nineteenth-Century French Poetry

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01/25/2011
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06/01/1999
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Purdue University Press

Description

The Gendered Lyric argues that gender difference contributes to the definition of aesthetic values and, indeed, shaped the representation of masculine and feminine subjectivity in nineteenth-century French poetry. Gretchen Schultz analyzes works by the leaders of the Romantic, Parnassian, and Symbolist schools to show that their implicit conceptions of gender were central to the formulation of their aesthetics. Prominent Romantic poets (Hugo, Lamartine, Musset) appropriated feminine cultural attributes to construct an empathetic male poet, while the Parnassians of the following generation, including Leconte de Lisle and Gautier, repudiated Romanticism for a more "muscular" and masculinist poetic practice.Women poets writing in the shadows of these great men devised varying strategies, ranging from assimilation to satire, to gain access to poetic subjectivity. Schultz devotes chapters to the Romantic Desbordes-Valmore, as well as several lesser-known Parnassian women, and through close readings explores their accommodations of, and revolts against, the dominant movements. Schultz's appendix of works by women poets provides the reader with a valuable source of heretofore unavailable texts. Symbolists readmitted femininity with a broader, more fluid definition of lyric subjectivity. Even the notoriously misogynist Bauldelaire contributed to the representation of otherness. And in different ways, Verlaine's gay male poetry and Marie Krysinska's innovative free verse battled poetic conventions to fulfill the promises of Symbolism's open poetic stance. The Gendered Lyric is recommended for scholars and students of nineteenth-century French studies, poetry and poetics, and gender studies.