Symptom of Beauty

Francette Pacteau

Symptom of Beauty
Distribution by the University of Chicago Press only to customers in the USA and Canada. Customers elsewhere should visit the UK website of Reaktion Books.

Francette Pacteau

Distributed for Reaktion Books

232 pages | 6 x 9
Paper $16.00 ISBN: 9780948462542 Published April 2004 For sale in North and South America only
E-book $16.00 ISBN: 9781780231662 Published June 2013
For a woman in the Western world, there is no escaping beauty. Either she possesses it, or she lacks it. If she lacks it, she may hope to gain it. If she already has it, she will certainly lose it. But what is "it"? Not an objective thing, Francette Pacteau tells us, but a generic term for an unspecifiable number of psychological experiences in the mind of the observer. What these experiences are, what causes them, and how they manifest themselves as a notion of beauty is the subject of this book.

Less interested in the contingent object of desire than the fantasy that frames it, Pacteau considers the staging of the aesthetic emotion. Her analysis extends from the Classical ideals of beauty, through Renaissance poetry to the recent formulations of Hollywood. Her book is an ambitious attempt to describe the mise-en-scène of beauty within a particular field of representations – that of the beauty of a woman.
Introduction : more than a woman
1. The portrait of Laura
2. The imaginary companion
3. Shattered beauty
4. The girl of the Golden Mean
5. Woman as hieroglyph
6. Dark continent
7. Skin deep
8. Love at last sight
9. Mirror, mirror...
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