Savage Reprisals by Peter Gay
Bleak House, Madame Bovary, Buddenbrooks

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Synopsis

A revelatory work that examines the intricate relationship between history and literature, truth and fiction—with some surprising conclusions.

Focusing on three literary masterpieces—Charles Dickens's Bleak House (1853), Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1857), and Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks (1901)—Peter Gay, a leading cultural historian, demonstrates that there is more than one way to read a novel.



Typically, readers believe that fiction, especially the Realist novels that dominated Western culture for most of the nineteenth century and beyond, is based on historical truth and that great novels possess a documentary value. That trust, Gay brilliantly shows, is misplaced; novels take their own path to reality. Using Dickens, Flaubert, and Mann as his examples, Gay explores their world, their craftsmanship, and their minds. In the process, he discovers that all three share one overriding quality: a resentment and rage against the society that sustains the novel itself. Using their stylish writing as a form of revenge, they deal out savage reprisals, which have become part of our Western literary canon. A New York Times Notable Book and a Best Book of 2002.
 

About Peter Gay

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Peter Gay is the author of more than twenty-five books, including the National Book Award winner The Enlightenment, the best-selling Weimar Culture, and the widely translated Freud: A Life for Our Time. He lives in New York City.
 
Published December 17, 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company. 193 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Savage Reprisals

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It's tempting to treat novels as beautifully crafted and precise reflections of a society's social, political and psychological realities, but noted historian Gay (Schnitzler's Century, etc.) is having none of it: "whoever enlists fiction to assist in the hunt for knowledge must always be alert t...

| Read Full Review of Savage Reprisals: Bleak House...

Publishers Weekly

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It's tempting to treat novels as beautifully crafted and precise reflections of a society's social, political and psychological realities, but noted historian Gay (S

Jun 10 2002 | Read Full Review of Savage Reprisals: Bleak House...

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