Romanesque Commitments: Amélie Bosquet Between Popular Aesthetics and Novel(la) Theory

This article reconsiders the relationship between literary aesthetics and political commitment in mid-nineteenth-century France by examining the fiction, folkloric research, and editorial work of provincial writer and intellectual Amélie Bosquet (1815–1904), as well as her correspondence with Gustave Flaubert between 1859 and 1869. I argue that Bosquet’s La Normandie romanesque et merveilleuse, a collection of fairy tales and folklore from her native region, constitutes a reflection on the function and value of popular narrative—a theoretical intervention that she put to the test in editing a collection of workers’ poetry and in writing her own novellas. Turning to Bosquet’s correspondence with Flaubert, I show how their fundamental disagreements on style, narrative intervention, and the relationship between politics and aesthetics set the stage for critical debates on the nature of literary Realism, sentimental fiction, and the political responsibility of writers of fiction.

Victoria Baena
Yale University
Volume 50.1–2