Christy Wampole’s Degenerative Realism opens with a provocative question: What, in a post-truth era, “is the connection between a wilting sense of reality and a wilting nation?” (1). This question clearly positions Degenerative Realism as a contribution to the growing body of scholarship on French declinology. Although, as volumes such as Laurent Demanze and Dominique Viart’s Fins de la littérature (2011) suggest, scholars of contemporary French literature have by and large been reticent to amplify or legitimize fantasies of cultural decline, Degenerative Realism gives a sobering account of the allure of declinology in French culture and of its pervasiveness in contemporary novels. Indeed, while the cover of the book shows an image of grapes afflicted with noble rot, the embittered worldview that its pages explore is in fact something like the opposite of the sweet juice of noble rot. For, as Wampole argues, at stake in this corrosive literary turn...

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