Charm Transfigured

  • Richard Beckman


The author notes that despite the instability of the word charm during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the OED does not record charm in the sense of “Fascinating quality, charmingness, attractiveness” before the nineteenth century. Why did charm become quite respectable? Possibly because times and ways of thinking had changed. There had been a swerve during the Enlightenment. Cultural changes seem never to expire fully, but the decline of authoritarian and orthodox habits of mind did occur; charm was promoted from bewitchment to elegance. Reason and subjective response now counted. While reason had its limitations, “I know what I like” could not be gainsaid.


From bewitchment to elegance 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Beckman
    • 1
  1. 1.Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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