What do we mean when we talk about intimacy? And when did we begin to talk about intimacy? Rather than approach the concept as an age-old aspect of love, friendship or desire, Intimacy and Distance identifies the nineteenth century as a period in which intimacy and its lexicon came sharply to the fore. Drawing on a diverse range of literary and non-literary sources, Lewis makes a case for thinking historically about intimacy, and recognising its centrality to nineteenth-century reading and writing practices.
The book brings together both canonical and neglected writers, from Baudelaire, Flaubert, and Barbey d’Aurevilly to Sainte-Beuve, Eugène Fromentin, and Eugénie de Guérin. Looking beyond boundaries of genre, it analyses verse and prose poetry, diaries and narrative fiction, and arts journalism and travel writing. Lewis demonstrates not only the impact of the idea of intimacy on nineteenth-century French culture, but also the complex aesthetic and ideological conflicts it could incite.
Philippa Lewis is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Bristol.
‘L’ouvrage ne se contente pas d’explorer les productions littéraires de l’intime (du roman intime au récit de voyage) mais s’appuie sur une belle et riche variété de formes littéraires et culturelles (journaux intimes, portraits littéraires, critique d’art) pour mettre en évidence la hiérarchie des valeurs à l’œuvre dans la notion d’intime.’ — Françoise Grauby, French Studies 72.3, July 2018, 459
‘Philippa Lewis’s fresh, thoughtful overview of the virtual relationships between French authors and readers between 1830 and 1870 focuses on selected works by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, Charles Baudelaire, Gustave Flaubert, Eugène Fromentin, Maurice de Guérin, and C.-A. Sainte-Beuve... She effectively synthesizes the deconstructive distinguo move of deconstruction—dissecting specious identities—with a discreet historical consciousness that alternatively discloses new ranges of possibilities and then contracts into a synthesis. Brief, thoughtful footnotes extend Lewis’s discussions in many directions, revealing her exemplary deep background.’ — Laurence M. Porter, Nineteenth-Century French Studies47.1-2, Fall 2018
‘In this thoughtful and suggestive monograph, Philippa Lewis offers a carefully historicized, thoroughly researched, and beautifully written account of the place occupied by the concept of intimacy in the literary culture of nineteenth-century France, and especially its middle decades... The book’s true point, and its greatest merit, is to get under the skin—intus, et in cute—of nineteenth-century French letters; to reanimate with a careful balance of sympathy and erudition a somewhat forgotten yet profoundly influential moment in the history of literary thought. In this respect, the book will be of compelling interest to all scholars of nineteenth-century France.’ — Andrew J. Counter, Modern Language Review 114.1, January 2019, 146-47 (full text online)
‘Accompagnato da una bibliogra a veramente ricca e da un dettagliato indice dei nomi, il saggio di Philippa Lewis si occupa nella prima parte dell’Intimacy, prendendo come punto di partenza un saggio di Henry James su Sainte-Beuve, in cui l’autore mostra il carattere “intimo” della scrittura come una caratteristica di una importante zona della letteratura francese del xix secolo: «poésie intime, the roman intime, and the journal intime».’ — Maria Emanuela Raffi, Studi francesi 186, 20, 2019, 516-17
‘Lewis’s convincing argument revolves around the idea that male authors writing after 1830, including both well- and lesser-known writers such as Flaubert, Euge`ne Fromentin, and above all Baudelaire, employed certain textual strategies as a result of their ambivalent feelings towards intimacy... This study constitutes a very significant addition to the existing corpus of works on the cultural and literary history of intimacy.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 55.1, January 2019, 119
‘A very well-researched and engaging contribution to the literary history of nineteenth-century France, the social and cultural history of emotions, Baudelaire studies, and historical masculinity studies. By deprivileging distance as the primary spatial and affective metaphor for understanding post-revolutionary French society and restoring intimacy to its rightful place on the cultural and literary landscape, Lewis successfully complicates one of the foundational paradigms of nineteenth-century French studies, making her book a compelling read for all scholars in the field.’ — Jessica Tanner, H-France19, February 2019, no. 27
‘This book is written with admirable clarity and, via the lens of intimacy, offers original perspectives on some well-known and lesser-known writers, while also shedding light on the emotional history of the nineteenth century.’ — Paul Gibbard, Emotions: History, Culture, Society 3, 2019, 174-75