Anti-Portraits: Poetics of the Face in Modern English, Polish and Russian Literature (1835-1965) is a study of a-physiognomic descriptions of the face. It demonstrates that writers such as George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, Edgar Allan Poe, Nicolay Gogol, Virginia Woolf and Witold Gombrowicz vigorously resisted the belief that facial features reflect character.
While other studies tend to focus on descriptions which affirm physiognomy, this book examines portraits which question popular face-reading systems and contravene their common premise – the surface-depth principle. Such portraits reveal that physiognomic formula is a cultural construct, invented to abridge, organise and regulate legibility of the human face. Most importantly, strange and ‘unreadable’ fictional faces frequently expose the connection between physiognomic judgement and stereotyping, prejudice and racism.
Kamila Pawlikowska, Ph.D. (2013), graduated from the University of Kent (UK) and is presently a British Academy/Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Seikei University in Tokyo. Her current research project examines reception of Japan in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.
Table of contents
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
CHAPTER I. GEORGE ELIOT AND TOLSTOY: THE HUMAN FACE – SUBSTANCE OR SPIRIT?
CHAPTER II. POE AND GOGOL: THE FACE AS PRINCIPLE OF ORDER
CHAPTER III. GOMBROWICZ AND WOOLF: THE FACE AS CULTURE
This book may appeal to academics and students interested in European literature, portraiture, history of art, cultural studies, medical humanities, psychology and anthropology. It may interest scholars concerned with representations of the body and the relationship between science and culture.