Writing in Parts: Imitation and Exchange in Nineteenth-Century Literature

Synopsis

Proposing a new interpretation of literature and mass culture in nineteenth-century Europe, this work focuses on works by Marx, Balzac, Dickens, Adorno, and Benjamin to explore in them a complex "mimetic" disposition toward commodification in the realm of culture. The aim of the book is twofold: to explicate in the work of Balzac and Dickens subtle and profoundly ambivalent attitudes toward the rapidly expanding mass culture of the 1830's in France and England, and to identify through this reading of the novelists a common mimetic element that has eluded a certain dialectical approach to art's overcoming of mass culture - an approach best exemplified in Horkheimer and Adorno's influential essay on the "culture industry".