The Dream of an Absolute Language: Emanuel Swedenborg and French Literary Culture

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SUNY Press, Jul 3, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 332 pages
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Taking as its point of departure the two poems, Correspondances by Baudelaire and Les correspondances by Alphonse-Louis Constant, The Dream of an Absolute Language: Emanuel Swedenborg and French Literary Culture traces the reception and popularization of several key Swedenborgian doctrines in late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French literature and popular culture, notably the doctrine of correspondences. Contrary to what Michel Foucault argued in his early Les mots et les choses, in nineteenth-century France, the word correspondences does not denote a break with representation, at least as it was used by nineteenth-century French writers: rather it is intimately bound up with the taxonomic structures of natural history and also with the desire to understand the social world in terms of an ordered and controllable totality. Because it crops up in texts we now classify as canonical and also those outside the canon, and because it is so clearly related to notions of literary structure and effect, the word correspondences and its transformations in late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France offers a vantage point for discerning how artists and writers defined their work both within and against a context of cultures defined as elite, popular, and even ideological."
 

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Contents

Swedenborg French Culture and the Dream of an Absolute
1
Swedenborgianism Popular Culture and the Ends of
10
Politics Magic and Language Swedenborgianism in
19
Echoes of Les correspondances in ConstantLevis prose
27
The Preface to the 1861 Edition
37
Swedenborgs Correspondences and the Cultures of
55
Who Has the Word? Swedenborgianism and Popular
107
Swedenborgianism in France
116
Fictions of Wholeness Swedenborgianism and the French Canon
145
Baudelaires Correspondances Language Censorship
217
Conclusion
249
Baudelaires Correspondances and ConstantLevis Les
257
Works Cited
301
Index
321
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Lynn R. Wilkinson is Assistant Professor of Scandinavian and Comparative Literature at the University of Texas, Austin.

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