Elegance’s history through different kind of books and novels (not only Wilde, I swear)
Elegance it’s an hard concept to find in our society: we privilege the ready made to the hand made, the lower quality with rapid resolution to highest craft in slower times.
But it wasn’t like this trough the centuries: we came from one of the most elegant nation in facts of fashion, art and culture. Think of Dante: he was the pioneer of the modern language, creating that marvelous opera of “Divina Commedia” that still resonates through every culture and literature from every corner of the world. That was a very elegant kind of writing and creating: studying the material you have, searching and finding for years to create with your hands something will survive for the eternity.
So, here are my personal selection to understand elegance at time of crafting and creativity through books.
Against Nature – Joris – Karl Huysmans
One of most important novels in the Aestheticism, Huysmans perfectly describes the life of a real Aesthetic person, Des Esseintes, that loves to cover himself in splendid work of art, jewelry, clothes, accessories and furniture of every kind. It’s the perfect metaphor of the importance of the hand made as a feature of being elegant.
The name of the rose – Umberto Eco
The perfect heir of Dante in facts of language, Umberto Eco’s most famous novel is an historical journey with a thriller subplot. The real importance is on the elegant language, subtle, finely chiseled and cured in every single word and detail, showing us how even the language can be elegant if there’s a good artisan behind.
Finnegan’s Wake – James Joyce
Maybe the most infamous and difficult novel to understand, it’s the last work of Joyce before dying. There isn’t a real plot, a real concept behind or a story to follow: it’s a show where the language it’s the main character. It’s the work of a talented artisan that played with the material – the language – creating a new kind od elegance hand made. Curiosity: there are ten thousand letters words in it, one in the incipit.
The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility – Walter Benjamin
How someone can’t quote this book in this list? A little meditation above art in modern context, where everyone can make art and reproduce it, so where’s the sense to make unique pieces and crafted works? The answer in this little and even now actual book.