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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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The View from Montserrat

The View from Montserrat

(p.18) 2 The View from Montserrat
The Classic

Christopher Prendergast (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In 1868, the year before his death, French critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve briefly revisited — in a review of the career of Jean-Jacques Ampere — the early 19th-century scene to which they had both belonged as young contributors to Le Globe. Sainte-Beuve notes Goethe's comment that Ampere was more a citizen of the world than a citizen of Paris. In Sainte-Beuve's 1850 essay ‘Qu'est-ce qu'un classique?’, Goethe is the source for the conversion of the time-honoured trope of Mount Parnassus to Montserrat, as the vantage point from which to ‘survey’ the literatures of the world. Indeed, Sainte-Beuve's view is in some respects even more sweeping in its inclusiveness than Goethe's somewhat Eurocentric account. Where Goethe saw world literature as principally a European conversation, Sainte-Beuve reaches further out in time and space to incorporate many authors and texts alongside the predictably self-selecting candidates of a European provenance.

Keywords:   Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, classic, Goethe, world literature, France, politics, culture, literary criticism

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