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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Symptom of Beauty

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.

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.


232 pages | 6 x 9

Essays in Art and Culture

Art: Art--General Studies


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
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...
Images
References
Select Bibliography

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