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From the publisher
"The bourgeois ...Not so long ago, this notion seemed indispensable to social analysis; these days, one might go years without hearing it mentioned. Capitalism is more powerful than ever, but its human embodiment seems to have vanished. 'I am a member of the bourgeois class, feel myself to be such, and have been brought up on its opinions and ideals, ' wrote Max Weber, in 1895. Who could repeat these words today? Bourgeois 'opinions and ideals'--what are they?" Thus begins Franco Moretti's study of the bourgeois in modern European literature--a major new analysis of the once-dominant culture and its literary decline and fall. Moretti's gallery of individual portraits is entwined with the analysis of specific keywords--"useful" and "earnest," "efficiency," "influence," "comfort," "roba"--and of the formal mutations of the medium of prose. From the "working master" of the opening chapter, through the seriousness of nineteenth-century novels, the conservative hegemony of Victorian Britain, the "national malformations" of the Southern and Eastern periphery, and the radical self-critique of Ibsen's twelve-play cycle, the book charts the vicissitudes of bourgeois culture, exploring the causes for its historical weakness, and for its current irrelevance.