Only a Promise of Happiness, for their close attention to which I am so grateful to Berys Gaut and Carolyn Korsmeyer, revolves around one central idea: that judgements of beauty always occur in medias res. To be struck by the beauty of something is to feel that I have not yet seen all that is of value in it, and that life would be somehow better if that beautiful object became part of it. Frederick, dazzled by Mme Arnoux in Flaubert's Sentimental Education, asks:

What was her name, her home, her past? He longed to know about the furniture in her room, all the dresses she had ever worn, the people she mixed with; and even the desire for physical...

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