An intriguing look at vintage perfume's powerful past, including reviews of more than 300 scents, with stunning period advertisements throughout.
scent and subversion
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This lively, accessible book is the first to explore Victorian literature through scent and perfume, presenting an extensive range of well-known and unfamiliar texts in intriguing and imaginative new ways that make us re-think literature's relation with the senses. Concentrating on aesthetic and decadent authors, Scents and Sensibility introduces a rich selection of poems, essays, and fiction, exploring these texts with reference to both the little-known cultural history of perfume use and the appreciation of natural fragrance in Victorian Britain. It shows how scent and perfume are used to convey not merely moods and atmospheres but the nuances of the aesthete or decadent's carefully cultivated identity, personality, or sensibility. A key theme is the emergence of the olfactif, the cultivated individual with a refined sense of smell, influentially represented by the poet and critic Algernon Charles Swinburne, who is emulated by a host of canonical and less well-known aesthetic and decadent successors such as Walter Pater, Edmund Gosse, John Addington Symonds, Lafcadio Hearn, Michael Field, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Symons, Mark André Raffalovich, Theodore Wratislaw, and A. Mary F. Robinson. This book explores how scent and perfume pervade the work of these authors in many different ways, signifying such diverse things as style, atmosphere, influence, sexuality, sensibility, spirituality, refinement, individuality, the expression of love and poetic creativity, and the aura of personality, dandyism, modernity, and memory. A coda explores the contrasting twentieth-century responses of Virginia Woolf and Compton Mackenzie to the scent of Victorian literature.
Asian American women have long dealt with charges of betrayal within and beyond their communities. Images of their "disloyalty" pervade American culture, from the daughter who is branded a traitor to family for adopting American ways, to the war bride who immigrates in defiance of her countrymen, to a figure such as Yoko Ono, accused of breaking up the Beatles with her "seduction" of John Lennon. Leslie Bow here explores how representations of females transgressing the social order play out in literature by Asian American women. Questions of ethnic belonging, sexuality, identification, and political allegiance are among the issues raised by such writers as Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Bharati Mukherjee, Jade Snow Wong, Amy Tan, Sky Lee, Le Ly Hayslip, Wendy Law-Yone, Fiona Cheong, and Nellie Wong. Beginning with the notion that feminist and Asian American identity are mutually exclusive, Bow analyzes how women serve as boundary markers between ethnic or national collectives in order to reveal the male-based nature of social cohesion. In exploring the relationship between femininity and citizenship, liberal feminism and American racial discourse, and women's domestic abuse and human rights, the author suggests that Asian American women not only mediate sexuality's construction as a determiner of loyalty but also manipulate that construction as a tool of political persuasion in their writing. The language of betrayal, she argues, offers a potent rhetorical means of signaling how belonging is policed by individuals and by the state. Bow's bold analysis exposes the stakes behind maintaining ethnic, feminist, and national alliances, particularly for women who claim multiple loyalties.
Here is a much-needed overview of what is arguably our most elusive sense. Sight and hearing have been the subject of numerous books, while the so-called "lower senses" have remained relatively unexplored despite powerful and complex social meanings. From hygiene to aromatherapy, the foul to the fragrant, smell is shown here to be much more than a physical act of perception.
From its inception in nineteenth-century France, the prose poem has embraced an aesthetic of shock and innovation rather than tradition and convention. In this suggestive study, Margueritte S. Murphy both explores the history of this genre in Anglo-American literature and provides a model for reading the prose poem, irrespective of language or national literature. Murphy argues that the prose poem is an inherently subversive genre, one that must perpetually undermine prosaic conventions in order to validate itself as authentically "other". At the same time, each prose poem must to some degree suggest a traditional prose genre in order to subvert it successfully. The prose poem is thus of special interest as a genre in which the traditional and the new are brought inevitably and continually into conflict. Beginning with a discussion of the French prose poem and its adoption in England by the Decadents, Murphy examines the effects of this association on later poets such as T.S. Eliot. She also explores the perception of the prose poem as an androgynous genre. Then, with a sensitivity to the sociopolitical nature of language, she draws on the work of Mikhail Bakhtin to illuminate the ideology of the genre and explore its subversive nature. The bulk of the book is devoted to insightful readings of William Carlos Williams's Kora in Hell, Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons, and John Ashbery's Three Poems. As notable examples of the American prose poem, these works demonstrate the range of this genre's radical and experimental possibilities.
In this entertaining tour de force into the most elusive of our five senses, Le Guerer investigates scent and its relationship to myth, psychology, religion, ritual, sex, seduction, magic, social classes, and early pharmacology and healing practices.