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Art of the Everyday - Dutch Painting and the Realist Novel


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xiii Preface xv Chapter One: The Novel as Dutch Painting 1 Chapter Two: Low Genre and High Theory 24 Chapter Three: Balzac's Bourgeois Interiors and the Quest for the Absolute 58 Chapter Four: George Eliot's Defense of Dutch Painting 91 Chapter Five: Hardy's Rural Painting of the Dutch School 125 Chapter Six: Proust's Genre Painting and the Rediscovery of Vermeer 162 Notes 195 Index 243

Promotional Information

Art of the Everyday is a work of extraordinary scholarship that significantly expands our understanding both of realism and of Dutch painting. All the big subjects related to realism are here, all handled with utmost care. One of the most satisfying things about this learned, insightful book is that it gives the impression of absolute saturation in the art and in the fictions, and thus it earns its authority in both fields. -- George Levine, author of "The Realistic Imagination" I tremendously enjoyed reading Art of the Everyday. One of the great pleasures it offers is the revisiting of something commonly assumed to be self-evident--the comparison between realist fiction and Dutch art. Ruth Yeazell makes us realize just how blind we've been to the range of implications this comparison carries with it. Lucid, knowledgeable, and extremely readable, this exciting book deepens our understanding of all that's at stake in the cultural politics of realism. -- Kate Flint, author of "The Victorians and the Visual Imagination" Extremely thorough and precise but written with elegance and fluidity, Art of the Everyday is an excellent and entertaining book that impressively integrates the art-historical and the literary. -- Martha Hollander, author of "An Entrance for the Eyes: Space and Meaning in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art"

About the Author

Ruth Bernard Yeazell is the Chace Family Professor of English and director of the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University. Her books include "Harems of the Mind: Passages of Western Art and Literature".


"A charming, even masterful footnote in the history of taste... Thoroughly researched, highly readable, and lavishly illustrated."--James Gardner, New York Sun "Yeazell looks to bring together both the high and the low, bridging Barrett Browning's gap between the Dutch and the Italian...Art of the Everyday: Dutch Painting and the Realist Novel sheds new light on both the realist novel and Dutch painting and covers both fields with the clear, warm glow of a fine Vermeer."--Bob Duggan, Art Blog by Bob "[A]s Ruth Bernard Yeazell makes abundantly clear in her study of the influence of Dutch painting on realist novels, it was the humanity, the ordinariness, the domesticity, of the work of a dozen or so Dutch (and Flemish) artists that proved both appealing and inspiring to Balzac, George Eliot, Hardy, and Proust--to name only the masterly writers whom Yeazell considers most essential and instructive... Yeazell documents her thesis with skill, erudition, and elegance."--Ed Minus, Sewanee Review "Yeazell's is an accomplished book, at once meticulous and highly readable, in which narratives of social meaning-making interact in complex, often uneasy ways with stories of conflicted inwardness."--Paul K. Saint-Amour, Novel "Yeazell's grasp over seventeenth-century Dutch painting is both thorough and nuanced, and the several very interesting connections that she makes between these paintings and realistic novels will have major implications for future work on literary realism."--Sambudha Sen, Victorian Studies "Yeazell's well-documented book (more than 500 endnotes and the opinions of many critics on this topic) offers strong evidence that beyond the visual imagery of nineteenth century English and French realist novelists there lies the minute pictorial syntax of the visual images of the seventeenth-century Dutch painter."--Camelia-Mihaela Cmeciu, European Legacy "There's something about the way Art of the Everyday has been written, which takes the reader right inside the canvas of Dutch painting. Upon reading two chapters in particular, 'Low Genre and High Theory' and 'Proust's Genre Painting,' one feels so immersed within the writing, that by proxy, the paintings themselves feel almost within reach. It's as if one is no longer reading about art, but rather, within the art itself... [L]et there be no doubt that Art of the Everyday is an august, and extraordinary contribution to the world of literary theory and the art-historical."--David Marx, "Art of the Everyday is one of those rare works that succeeds in comparing these media while doing full justice to their differences and complexities. Yeazell's close readings of nineteenth-century narratives are matched by her vivid interpretations of Dutch paintings, several of which are reproduced in stunning full-color plates. The book is useful not only for the argument it makes about the influence of Dutch painting on the nineteenth-century novel, but also for the high standard it sets for future interdisciplinary studies... Art of the Everyday promises to become an influential work in both literary and art historical studies."--Aviva Briefel, Nineteenth-Century Contexts

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