This is Bourdieu's long-awaited study of Flaubert and the formation
of the modern literary field.
It was in the nineteenth century that the literary universe as
we know it today took shape, as a space set apart from the approved
academies of the state. No one could any longer dictate with
authority what ought to be written, or decree the canons of good
taste: recognition and consecration were produced in and through
the struggle in which writers, critics and publishers confronted
The aesthetic project of Gustave Flaubert was formed at the very
moment when the literary field became autonomous. Through a careful
analysis of the genesis and structure of the literary field,
Bourdieu is able to show how the work of Flaubert was shaped by the
different currents, movements, schools and authors of the time -
how, in other words, Flaubert was the product of the very field
that he helped to produce.
By uncovering the rules of art, the logic which writers and
literary institutions obey and which expressed itself in a
sublimated form in their works, Pierre Bourdieu shatters the
illusion of the all-powerful creative genius. At the same time, he
lays the foundations for a sociological analysis of literary works
which would be concerned not only with the material production of
the work itself, but also with the production of its value.
Widely praised in France, where the book was compared with
Sartre's classic work on Flaubert, "The Rules of Art "will be
extensively discussed in the English-speaking world. It will be
recognized as one of the most important contributions of the last
decade to the study of the social and historical conditions of
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