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The ClassicSainte-Beuve and the Nineteenth-Century Culture Wars$
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Christopher Prendergast

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199215850

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215850.001.0001

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Introduction: The Profession of Criticism

Introduction: The Profession of Criticism

(p.1) 1 Introduction: The Profession of Criticism
The Classic

Christopher Prendergast (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In literary history, as elsewhere, the mechanisms governing survival and oblivion often operate discontinuously, and are capable of delivering curious reversals. The changing fortunes of French critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve's reputation are a case in point. Hailed in the 19th century as both the father and the master of modern literary criticism, scarcely read and much derided for most of the 20th century, Sainte-Beuve has, at the beginning of the 21st century, made a dramatic reappearance in the scholarly world. That he most surely belongs in an intellectual as well as a literary history, far broader and more complex than that marked by the reductive image of his notorious ‘biographical’ method (the source of most of the derision), is a proposition that can now scarcely be disputed. Which intellectual history, and just how serenely it can be approached, are the subject of this book.

Keywords:   literary criticism, Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, classic, intellectual history, professional critic, French literature

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