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- DescriptionThis is a boldly original history of the vel from ancient Greece to the vibrant world of contemporary fiction. Thomas Pavel argues that the driving force behind the vel's evolution has been a rivalry between stories that idealize human behavior and those that ridicule and condemn it. Impelled by this conflict, the vel moved from depicting strong souls to sensitive hearts and, finally, to enigmatic psyches. Pavel makes his case by analyzing more than a hundred vels from Europe, North and South America, Asia, and beyond. The result is a wide-ranging survey of the vel and a provocative reinterpretation of its development. According to Pavel, the earliest vels were implausible because their characters were either perfect or villaius. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, velists strove for greater credibility by describing the inner lives of ideal characters in minute detail (as in Samuel Richardson's case), or by closely examining the historical and social environment (as Walter Scott and Balzac did). Yet the earlier rivalry continued: Henry Fielding held the line against idealism, defending the comic tradition with its flawed characters, while Charlotte Bront and George Eliot offered a rejoinder to social realism with their idealized vision of strong, generous, and sensitive women. In the twentieth century, modernists like Proust and Joyce sought to move beyond this conflict and capture the enigmatic workings of the psyche. Pavel concludes his compelling account by showing how the old tensions persist even within today's pluralism, as popular vels about heroes coexist with a wealth of other kinds of works, from satire to social and psychological realism.
- Author BiographyThomas G. Pavel is Distinguished Service Professor of French, Comparative Literature, and Social Thought at the University of Chicago. His books include Fictional Worlds and The Spell of Language .
- PrizesWinner of Barbara Perkins and George Perkins Prize 2015 and PROSE Awards: Literature 2013. Shortlisted for Phi Beta Kappa's Christian Gauss Award 2014.
- Author(s)Thomas G. Pavel
- PublisherPrinceton University Press
- Date of Publication01/11/2013
- SubjectLiterary Studies: Textbooks & Study Guides
- Place of PublicationNew Jersey
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintPrinceton University Press
- Weight657 g
- Width152 mm
- Height229 mm
- Spine30 mm
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