Synopses & Reviews
In the middle of the eighteenth century, something new made itself felt in European cultureand#8212;a tone or style that came to be called the sentimental. The sentimental mode went on to shape not just literature, art, music, and cinema, but peopleand#8217;s very structures of feeling, their ways of doing and being.and#160;In what is sure to become a critical classic, An Archaeology of Sympathy challenges Sergei Eisensteinand#8217;s influential account of Dickens and early American film by tracing the unexpected history and intricate strategies of the sentimental mode and showing how it has been reimagined over the past three centuries. James Chandler begins with a look at Frank Capra and the Capraesque in American public life, then digs back to the eighteenth century to examine the sentimental substratum underlying Dickens and early cinema alike. With this surprising move, he reveals how literary spectatorship in the eighteenth century anticipated classic Hollywood films such as Capraand#8217;s It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and Itand#8217;s a Wonderful Life. Chandler then moves forward to romanticism and modernismand#8212;two cultural movements often seen as defined by their rejection of the sentimentaland#8212;examining how authors like Mary Shelley, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf actually engaged with sentimental forms and themes in ways that left a mark on their work.and#160;Reaching from Laurence Sterne to the Coen brothers, An Archaeology of Sympathy casts new light on the long eighteenth century and the novelistic forebears of cinema and our modern world.
"Huge, richly researched, absorbing revisionist biography of the filmmaker renowned for standing up for 'the little man'....Superb in every way." Kirkus Reviews
"Joseph McBride has found out a great deal about Frank Capra and has set it down in a lucid, inviting way. His book unrolls like a well-told tale....As a whole, McBride's book...takes on an importance that is unique for this kind of biography. It becomes essential to a true knowledge of the films by giving us truth about the man." Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic
"It is hard to believe that anyone who reads Frank Capra will ever be able to watch...[his] movies in quite the same way again. Instead of lively, socially conscious entertainments, one is apt to see the idealized fancies of an insecure immigrant parading his Americanism across the screen, or the contradictions of a parvenu who was contemptuous of the masses yet eager to please them." Barry Gewen, The New York Times Book Review
"This exhaustively researched and densely perhaps overly detailed biography uncovers the man behind the camera and simultaneously debunks much of what Capra wrote in his autobiography, The Name Above the Title....The director's flag waving concealed shame about his Sicilian heritage, writes McBride, and he was not adverse to being one of the greedy rich his films derided. The analysis of Capra's oeuvre, including his days as a gag writer, reveals much about his psyche. The author...has written the definitive work about another major American director." Library Journal
Moviegoers often assume Frank Capra's life resembled his beloved films: as in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
or It's a Wonderful Life
, a man of the people faces tremendous odds and, by doing the right thing, triumphs. But as Joseph McBride reveals in this meticulously researched, definitive biography, the reality was far more complex, a true American tragedy. Using newly declassified U.S. government documents about Capra's response to being considered a "subversive" during the post-World War II Red Scare, McBride adds a final chapter to his unforgettable portrait of the man who gave us It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,
and Meet John Doe
Frank Capra was the American success story, the immigrant from Sicily who not only realized the American dream but depicted it. Capra's films, particularly "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", "Meet John Doe", and "It's a Wonderful Life" are national icons -- cherished monuments to the "common man". Yet as Joseph McBride reveals in this revised edition of his widely acclaimed biography, Capra was far more complex than anyone knew. Using recently declassified material about Capra's controversial dealings with Congress and the HUAC (House Unamerican Activities Committee) in the 1940s and 1950s, McBride adds a final chapter to his unforgettable portrait of Hollywood's most beloved director.
About the Author
James Chandler is the Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and chair of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, including England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
Table of Contents
Introductionand#160;The Sentimental Mode
Part 1and#160;The Capraesque
2and#160;Capra Remakes Capra
3and#160;Cinema as a Medium of Sentiment
Part 2and#160;The Making of Literary Sentimentalism
4and#160;The Case of the Literary Spectator
5and#160;Sentimental Journeys, Vehicular States
6and#160;The Emergence of Sentimental Probability
Part 3and#160;Against Sentiment