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Physiognomy in the European Novel

Physiognomy in the European Novel: Faces and Fortunes

Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 458
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  • Book Info
    Physiognomy in the European Novel
    Book Description:

    After discussing Lavater's place in eighteenth-century German letters and his importance in the history of Western physiognomy, Dr. Tytler examines the literary portrait in the modern novel and suggests that the development of techniques of character description and the growth of observational powers of narrators and characters alike, as manifest in fiction from the 1790s onward, may be more fully appreciated when considered in the light of the physiognomical background previously delineated.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5726-5
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-ix)
    (pp. x-xi)
    (pp. xii-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  6. PART ONE The Historical Background

    • I Introductory
      (pp. 3-34)

      The treatment of outward man in the epic genre, which is most commonly designated as “character description” or “the literary portrait,” has long been thought a proper subject for critical analysis, and interest in this subject has in recent years become almost as intense as it was in the early decades of this century.¹ At the same time, however, there can be little doubt that character description has otherwise been taken far less earnestly than it used to be, and that even where it continues to be discussed in studies on fictional theory and practice it tends to receive little...

    • II Lavater and the Physiognomische Fragmente
      (pp. 35-81)

      It is easy to understand why Lavater’s great reputation as a physiognomist should have sometimes led to the assumption that he even invented physiognomy. In fact, physiognomy has a long and illustrious history stretching back to classical antiquity as well as the ancient cultures of Egypt, Chaldea, Arabia, and China.¹ Histories of physiognomy are, however, hard to come by, though one such that deserves mention for its compendious account of the science from the antique era down to the end of the eighteenth century is Georg Gustav Fulleborn’s “Abriss einer Geschichte und Litteratur von der Physiognomik,” which was published in...

    • III Physiognomy in Nineteenth-Century European Letters
      (pp. 82-120)

      The popularity of Lavater’sPhysiognomische Fragmenteextended well beyond Germanic frontiers, and by the early part of the nineteenth century the work had become a kind of European phenomenon.¹ As in Germany and Switzerland, there were mixed reactions to it in France and England, where each volume was reviewed in all the leading periodicals during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Thanks to some French and British periodicals that took an interest in foreign literatures in the original language, people came to know about Lavater long before they could read him in translation, and soon they were talking or...

  7. PART TWO The Literary Foreground

    • IV Physiognomy in the Modern European Novel before 1800
      (pp. 123-165)

      Character description and physiognomy have been part and parcel of the epic genre since antiquity. We find rudiments of them in Homer’s epics, where beauty and ugliness have a moral significance and human beings are physically compared with animals; we also find occasional physiognomical judgments, as in theOdyssey,when Menelaus recognizes Telemachus’ and Peisistratus’ illustrious birth by their faces. Some Homerip characters are portrayed with a distinctive appearance: “the red-haired Menelaus,” “the bright-eyed Athene,” “the white-armed Nausicaa,” and so on; and such labeling has more or less the same symbolic function it was to have later in the medieval...

    • V Lavater and the Composite Portrait in the Nineteenth-Century Novel
      (pp. 166-207)

      By the end of the eighteenth century the novel had become by far the most popular of the literary genres, being regarded not merely as an ideal medium for passing the time but also as a useful source of information.¹ The demand for fiction had, in fact, become great enough for writers to make a living by novel-writing, if seldom to maintain the highest standards of their craft. Of the numerous novels published around the turn of the century, the more important ones were modeled on the Richardsonian or Sternean novels of sensibility and, particularly during the last quarter of...

    • VI Aspects of Lavaterian Physiognomy in Nineteenth-Century Literary Portraiture
      (pp. 208-259)

      It has been suggested in earlier chapters that the development of the nineteenth-century composite portrait had much to do with the popularity of physiognomy during that period. In this chapter the focus of our comparative analyses will be narrowed in the attempt to discover how far literary portraiture after 1800 actually reflects certain physiognomical principles as laid down in theFragmente.The first part of the chapter will be concerned with individual physical features and characteristics, and the remainder with ways in which the appearance is determined by psychological, social, and hereditary influences.

      The critic who sets out to study...

    • VII Physiognomical Awareness in the Nineteenth-Century European Novel
      (pp. 260-315)

      Studies of physiognomy in the nineteenth-century European novel have tended to be prompted by the discovery of specific references to Lavater and Gall, physiognomy and phrenology, in contexts of literary portraiture.¹ Such references have also been thought a useful means not only of gauging the intensity and duration of the Lavaterian physiognomical climate but also of substantiating arguments put forward about the influence of these sciences on the novel. This would be hardly less true of a number of long-forgotten literary works, especially satires, farces, and extravaganzas, in which one or other science constitutes the main theme, and Lavater or...

    (pp. 316-322)

    Our primary aim here has been to study the treatment of outward man in the nineteenth-century novel and to suggest how far it should be considered an expression of the influence which Lavater’sPhysiognomische Fragmenteexerted on European literary culture during that period. Only a relatively small number of works were selected for detailed discussion, but it was felt that this number, representing as it does many of the great novelists of the period, was enough to illustrate the principal ways in which physiognomy was incorporated in fiction. Such an approach made it also necessary to show the development of...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 323-392)
    (pp. 393-420)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 421-436)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 437-437)