In recent years, literary critics grappling with the misfit writer Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s sprawling oeuvre have recovered a “modernist” who deploys formal tropes like the fragment or sketch to capture the city’s fugitive qualities. In this essay, I show that Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s little-read Mon bonnet de nuit (My night bonnet) transposes formal indeterminacy to the writing of the everyday, the thinking of thought, and the representation of cosmic space. Mercier’s growing commitment to geocentrism counterbalances Friedrich Schlegel’s call for a “Copernican” poetics, while his writerly hyperproductivity gives rise to a style of indifference and zaniness that offers insight into the creation of “literary value” at the critical juncture when patrons gave way to publishers as mediators of production in European literary history.
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Research Article| February 01 2023
“Blushing before the Muses”: Copernican Form and Zany Productivity in Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s My Night Bonnet
TRAVIS WILDS is a design researcher living in Chicago. He pursues scholarly interests in literary history and the history of science, historical sociology and epistemology, and animality and is a research affiliate at the Center for Premodern Studies at the University of Minnesota.
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Representations (2023) 161 (1): 94–123.
Travis Wilds; “Blushing before the Muses”: Copernican Form and Zany Productivity in Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s My Night Bonnet. Representations 1 February 2023; 161 (1): 94–123. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2023.161.5.94
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