The Entrapments of Form : Cruelty and Modern Literature, Hardback Book

The Entrapments of Form : Cruelty and Modern Literature Hardback


Arguing that cruelty acquires a new meaning in modernity, The Entrapments of Form follows its evolution through exchanges between French and American literature over the contradictions of Enlightenment (slavery, genocide, libertine aristocratic privilege).

Catherine Toal traces Edgar Allan Poe's influence on the Sadean legacy, Melville's fictional dramatization of Tocqueville, and Henry James's response to the aesthetic of his French contemporaries, including Flaubert.

The result is not simply a work that provides close readings of key literary texts of the nineteenth century-Benito Cereno, The Turn of the Screw, Les Chants de Maldoror-but one that shows how in this era cruelty develops a specific narrative structure, one that is confirmed by the manner of its negation in twentieth-century philosophy.

The final chapters address this shift: the postwar French reception of Sade and the relationship between American cultural theory and the rhetoric of the so-called war on terror.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literature: history & criticism
  • ISBN: 9780823269341

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