Gender on the Divide: The Dandy in Modernist Literature

By Jessica R. Feldman | Go to book overview

5
ON THE DIVIDE

CATHER'S DANDY


A TWICE-WRITTEN SCROLL: SENSATION AND SYMPATHY

The search for modernism's dandy in twentieth-century American literature is a search for translations -- American dandies rendered from the French -- translations whose originals have gone largely unremarked. The afterlives of French dandies in their American reincarnations, their very passage from French to (American) English prose, demonstrate a continuity of the dandy tradition, for dandies have always been creatures of translation. Crisscrossing the channel, nineteenth-century dandies required continual translation between French and English culture; Barbey's George Bryan Brummell and Lady Hamilton, and Baudelaire's Thomas De Quincey and Edgar Allan Poe, mark the Anglo-Saxon as the center, not the periphery, of the "French" phenomenon of dandyism.

Willa Cather ( 1873-1947) imported the literary type of the dandy from the French tradition, which she knew well and admired lavishly. That we seldom find the word "dandy" in her prose and that we find no essay on dandyism per se in her writings should not disturb us, for these facts, too,

-143-

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Gender on the Divide: The Dandy in Modernist Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Paroles Hermaphrodites 25
  • 3 - Cette Vie En L''Air 54
  • 4 - Mundus Muliebris 97
  • 5 - On the Divide 143
  • 6 - The Intimidating Thesis 180
  • 7 - The Abyssinian Maid 220
  • Afterword 269
  • Select Bibliography 273
  • Index 285
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