Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

L'Origine del frammento ne Il capolavoro sconosciuto di Balzac

Kear, Jon (2008) L'Origine del frammento ne Il capolavoro sconosciuto di Balzac. In: Cattani, Francesca and Meneghelli, Donata, eds. La Rappresentazione all specchio. Testo letterario e testo pittorico. Meltemi, Rome, pp. 55-68. ISBN 978-88-8353-671-7. (KAR id:31662)

PDF (L'Origine del frammento ne Il capolavoro sconosciuto di Balzac) Publisher pdf
Language: English
Download this file
[thumbnail of L'Origine del frammento ne Il capolavoro sconosciuto di Balzac]
Request a format suitable for use with assistive technology e.g. a screenreader
Official URL:


This essay examines the notion of the fragment in Balzac’s canonical Le Chef d’oeuvre inconnu, a cardinal text in 19th and 20th Romantic artistic theory. Balzac’s story of the failure of his protagonist Frenhofer to realize the work of art of the future has been taken as a cautionary tale about the deleterious relation of theory to practice. This rests on an unequivocal reading of the denouement, where the castigating judgment of Frenhofer’s masterpiece by Poussin and Porbus is taken as authoritative. The essay puts this judgment in question, returning to aesthetics of the fragment in romantic theory and shows how the ending might be read against itself. Drawing on the work of Paul de Man the essay examines how questions of judgment and authority are progressively undermined in the text and the way the ending opens onto conflicting and irreconcilable forms of interpretation. As such it offers a new and original interpretation of a canonical text and serves to explain how later artists could continue to see the aesthetic theory of Frenhofer, elaborated and disparaged in the text, as a viable aesthetic strategy.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: N Visual Arts > ND Painting
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: J. Kear
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2012 19:40 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Kear, Jon.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.