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Neohelicon

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 199–215 | Cite as

Violence, dandyism and the literary self-portraiture of Quentin Crisp

  • Bill HarrisonEmail author
Article

Abstract

This essay argues that, although he is often characterized as aristocratic and defiant, the literary dandy fundamentally is the object of the types of violence identified by Galtung: direct, structural, and cultural. These three kinds can be traced throughout dandyism’s history, from the historical rise of “Beau” Brummell to more contemporary literary theorizing, as matters of acknowledging direct violence’s common proximity to the dandy, noting the dandy’s strong structural connection to his modern celebrity analogue, and understanding how the dandy transforms the economic and cultural relations of the commodity. Each of these aspects serve to reduce the literary dandy to a state of abjection. As a result of this antagonism, author and literary dandy Crisp adopts a form of life-writing in his memoir The Naked Civil Servant that can be identified as the literary self-portrait, a confessional and contrarian sub-genre theorized by Beaujour. The authorship of the self-portrait, then, serves as a defensive tactic that rewrites and reinterprets the violence of the dandy’s opponents.

Keywords

Dandy Dandyism Quentin Crisp Self-portrait Michel Beaujour Gay and lesbian studies 

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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishState University of New York, College at GeneseoGeneseoUSA

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