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Palgrave Macmillan

Political Dandyism in Literature and Art

Genealogy of a Paradigm

  • Book
  • © 2018


  • Presents the first history from the dandy’s emergence up to the present
  • Follows the dandy throughout journalism, literature, visual art, philosophy, and political theory
  • Offers a multi-regional approach: ranging from antebellum America to France, Holland, England, Germany, and Sweden

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Modern European Literature (PMEL)

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About this book

This book traces a genealogy of political dandyism in literature. Dandies abstain from worldly affairs, and politics in particular. As an enigmatic figure, or a being of great eccentricity, it was the dandy that haunted the literary and cultural imagination of the nineteenth century. In fact, the dandy is often seen as a quintessential nineteenth-century figure. It was surprising, then, when at the beginning of the twenty-first century this figure returned from the past to an unexpected place: the very heart of European politics. Various so-called populist leaders were seen as political dandies. But how could that figure that was once known for its aversion towards politics all of a sudden become the protagonist of a new political paradigm? Or was the dandy perhaps always already part of a political imagination? This study charts the emergence of this political paradigm. From the dandy’s first appearance to his latest resurrection, from Charles Baudelaire to Jean-François Lyotard, from dandy-insects to a dandy-Christ, this book follows his various guises and disguises.

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Table of contents (8 chapters)


“Throughout modernity, politics has become increasingly aestheticized: through propaganda and advertising, TV broadcasts and the Internet, and the fanaticism of fans. During the last century, even the worship of the worst autocrats imaginable was characterized by the fin-de-siècle cult of the genius. And even current forms of populism draw on dandyism, as Geertjan de Vugt vividly and convincingly demonstrates in his brilliant investigation of Baudelaire and his followers. Dandies are present again – not only in the literary and cultural salons, but also and especially on the stage of contemporary politics.” (Thomas Macho, Director of the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Geertjan de Vugt

About the author

Geertjan de Vugt works for the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Netherlands. He obtained his PhD in Comparative Literature cum laude from Tilburg University and was awarded the prize for Best Dissertation in the Humanities by the Society of Dutch Literature. He is the Dutch translator of Daniel Heller-Roazen’s The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations and Thomas Macho’s Das Leben ist ungerecht.

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