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Beautiful Deceptions: European Aesthetics, the Early American Novel, and Illusionist Art.


Beautiful Deceptions: European Aesthetics, the Early American Novel, and Illusionist Art

Philipp Schweighauser

University of Virginia Press


251 pages




The author examines the relationship between European aesthetics and representations of deception in the early American novel and illusionist art. He notes the link between art and politics, science, religion, and morality and contends that the emergence of modern ideas of autonomous art were part of a process resulting in the division of Western societies into social systems. He discusses the application of political and aesthetic approaches to the study of early American novels, focusing on Hugh Henry Brackenridge's Modern Chivalry; the deceptive actions of picaresque con men, gothic villains, and sentimental seducers in early American novels, such as Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland and Arthur Mervyn; Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple, Royall Tyler's The Algerine Captive, and Tabitha Gilman Tenney's Female Quixotism; the visual arts, including Charles Wilson Peale and Raphaelle Peale's trompe l'oeil deception; and artistic negotiations of deception, sensuous cognition, and art in Susan Warner's The Wide, Wide World, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Parts of the book have been previously published elsewhere. ([umlaut] Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR)

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Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2017
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