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In The Perils of Uglytown, Harry Berger, Jr., considers a variety of texts and images ranging from Thucydides and Plato to Shakespeare and Rembrandt. The Introduction explains the key concept of the study, structural misanthropology, a variant on Claude Lvi-Strauss's idea of structural anthropology. Part 1 explores its activity in several Platonic dialogues: Lysis, Crito, Phaedo, The Republic, and Timaeus. Part 2 turns to the Renaissance in Italy, England, and the Netherlands. Structural misanthropology is discussed first in the work of several Italian humanists (Alberti, Leonardo, Castiglione, and Vasari), then in English drama (Gorbuduc and several plays by Shakespeare), and finally in group portraits by Hals and Rembrandt. Perils of Uglytown applies and brings up to date the methods of interpretation Berger has developed during the past half-century in his many studies of literature, drama, philosophy, social and cultural studies, and the visual arts.
Harry Berger, Jr. , is Professor Emeritus of Literature and Art History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His most recent books include Fictions of the Pose: Rembrandt Against the Italian Renaissance; Situated Utterances: Texts, Bodies, and Cultural Representations; Manhood, Marriage, andMischief: Rembrandt's "Night Watch" and Other Dutch Group Portraits; and Caterpillage: Reflections on Seventeenth-Century Dutch Still Life Painting (the last three from Fordham).