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Title: The Poetic Act: Lamartine's Integration of Art and Politics
Authors: Hutchings, Peter
Advisors: Brooks, Peter
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: 1848
French History
Subjects: Comparative literature
Political science
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: As the founder of French romantic poetry and the de facto leader of the Revolution of 1848, Alphonse de Lamartine occupies a rare and critical junction between literary and political history. Though he remains canonical, he has been marginalized by literary scholars, with his thought and work understudied and often misinterpreted. This dissertation aims to recover his unique integration of art and politics, reclaiming his project as a radically creative manifestation of poesis. For the past 150 years, critics have almost unanimously agreed that Lamartine’s career, and particularly his role in 1848, illustrates the futility of trying to unite the poetic and political spheres, as the idealism of the former seems insufficient when faced with the hard realities of the latter. Yet for Lamartine, a dissociation of the two symbolized nothing short of a rupture of mind and body. By challenging the conventional division between literature and politics, he demonstrated a new potential for engaged, interdisciplinary poetics. Fredric Jameson has claimed that all literature has a “political unconscious” that makes it a “socially symbolic act;” Lamartine’s literary work was not only a conscious extension of his social project, but his social project was intentionally poetic as well. After articulating his theory of integration, he actively manifested it in a successful political career. If, for Shelley, “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” Lamartine went a step further by realizing his poetics on the national stage. His career thus provides an example of inspired, yet practical, politics: he was a vatic poet who conceived of and executed a complex, non-violent, diachronic, and adaptive strategy to embody his ideas. By analyzing his integrative project I offer a fresh interpretation of this poet, politician, philosopher, and historian.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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