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Glorious Vulgarity: Marie Corelli's Feminine Sublime in a Popular Context

Julia Kuehn

ISBN 978-3-8325-0657-5
268 pages, year of publication: 2004
price: 40.50 €
Glorious Vulgarity: Marie Corelli's Feminine Sublime in a Popular Context re-evaluates the work of Marie Corelli (1855-1924), the first English bestselling author of the one-volume novel. Until now critics have discussed Corelli in a socio-historical context, but have dismissed her novels as popular fiction not worthy of critical analysis. In contrast, this book reassesses a representative selection of Corelli's fictional works, her theoretical and critical writings and her correspondence. Overall, the study aims at understanding the aesthetic of the popular by reading along the lines of three themes. Analysing a selection of Corelli's works in the contexts of poetics, romance and religion, it tests out different theoretical models for understanding popular literature. These include genre theory, theories of the sublime, Frankfurt School theories of the mass market, gender theory, Freudian dream theory and selected contemporary psychoanalytical models.

Glorious Vulgarity develops out of Rita Felski's analysis of Corelli as a writer of the popular sublime, and subsequently draws upon a variety of other critical readings of the popular and the sublime. The Introduction argues that Corelli instinctively develops a feminine sublime as a subset of the popular sublime in her novels. It can be understood as an eclectic reading of experience characterised by the wish to merge with the sublime object of rapture rather than dominate it by reason. The feminine sublime creates a non-rational rhetoric, which signals the subject's failure to communicate experience through reason. It finds expression in the romance genre, which is characterised by a yearning for the metaphysical and a mode of excess. Three individual chapters interpret the three main signifiers of Corelli's feminine sublime, Aesthetics, Love and Religion, and analyse how Corelli manipulates these transcendental themes for a populist context. A subsidiary theme of the book is the proto-modernist element of Corelli's work. Throughout the argument surprising convergences between Corelli's turn-of-the-century populism and the modernist movement emerge.

Keywords:
  • Corelli
  • Marie
  • Popular Literature
  • Populärliteratur
  • The Sublime
  • Sublime
  • Bestseller
  • Strategies
  • Strategien

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40.50 €