Wednesday, February 02, 2005


I had never encountered the literary-journalistic term feuilleton until I started reading some of Mircea Eliade's autobiographical writing: he used to write them for Romanian newspapers as a (precocious) teenager. I had to look up the word and its etymology:

[French, from feuillet, sheet of paper, little leaf, diminutive of feuille, leaf, from Old French foille, from Latin folium.]

John Holbo of John & Belle Have a Blog quotes this definition . . .

The feuilleton writer, an artist in vignettes, worked with those discrete details and episodes so appealing to the nineteenth century's taste for the concrete. But he sought to endow his material with color drawn from his imagination. The subjective response of the reporter or critic to an experience, his feeling-tone, acquired clear primacy over the matter of his discourse. To render a state of feeling became the mode of formulating a judgment. Accordingly, in the feuilleton writer's style, the adjectives engulfed the nouns, the personal tint virtually obliterated the contours of the object of discourse. In an essay written when he was only seventeen, young Theodor Herzl identified one of the chief tendencies of the feuilleton writer: narcissism.

. . . as part of a wildly discursive entry on theory, the feuilleton, and Herman Hesse's Glass Bead Game, which I attempted as a teenager because the serious university students were reading it--only I was not Mircea Eliade, and I think I sort of bounced off the book. Perhaps I should give it another try.

Meanwhile, does blogging encourage the "feeling-tone" to dominate "the matter of [the] discourse"?


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