“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?
Thus begins Franco Moretti’s study of the bourgeois in modern European literature, where a gallery of individual portraits is entwined around the analysis of specific keywords — such as ‘useful’ and ‘earnest’, ‘efficiency’, ‘influence’, ‘comfort’, ‘roba’ — and of the formal mutations of the medium of prose. The book charts the rise and fall of bourgeois culture, exploring the causes for its historical
weakness, and searches for the seeds of its failures.
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