succès d'estime

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[suuk‐sed est‐eem]

A high reputation enjoyed by a work on the basis of critics' favourable judgements; thus a critical success rather than a merely commercial one. Another kind of reputation for which the French have a phrase is the succès de scandale: a success based on notoriety, when a work becomes famous because of some public excitement or outrage not directly arising from its actual merits. Some works have both kinds of success: Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita (1956) enjoyed a succès de scandale based on its notorious paedophilic subject‐matter, but still ranks as a succès d'estime on the strength of its widely admired use of English prose.

Subjects: Literature.

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