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Modern SentimentalismAffect, Irony, and Female Authorship in Interwar America$
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Lisa Mendelman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198849872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198849872.001.0001

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The Old Fashioned Flapper

The Old Fashioned Flapper

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Sentimental Satire

(p.56) { 2 } The Old Fashioned Flapper
Modern Sentimentalism

Lisa Mendelman

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 examines the politics of emotion and corporeality in Anita Loos’s 1925 satire of Jazz Age femininity, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Blondes is both a satire of a nineteenth-century sentimental novel and a sentimental novel in its own right. The chapter argues that such indeterminacy undergirds Loos’s send-up of the flapper as a figure whose interiority and exteriority are vitally opaque. Loos’s “more old fashioned girl” performs the flapper’s conflicted sexuality and exposes the gendered contradictions of Freudian psychoanalysis and the modernist language experiments exemplified by Gertrude Stein. The chapter connects the novel to contemporary legal debates about minimum wage and prostitution. It therefore argues that Blondes can also be seen as a mock manifesto, a companion piece to other period texts that tread an unclear line between irony and sincerity as they engage politicized discourse about women’s bodies.

Keywords:   flapper, Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, satire, minimum wage, prostitution, irony, manifesto, psychoanalysis, Gertrude Stein

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