Aesthetic Afterlives: Irony, Literary Modernity and the Ends by Andrew Eastham

By Andrew Eastham

Because the improvement of British Aestheticism within the 1870s, the concept that of irony has centred a sequence of anxieties that are imperative to fashionable literary perform. interpreting the most vital debates in post-Romantic aesthetics via hugely centred textual readings of authors from Walter Pater and Henry James to Samuel Beckett and Alan Hollinghurst, this research investigates the dialectical place of irony in Aestheticism and its twentieth-century afterlives.

Aesthetic Afterlives constructs a far-reaching theoretical narrative via positioning Victorian Aestheticism because the foundation of Literary Modernity. Aestheticism's cultivation of irony and reflexive detachment was once critical to this legacy, however it was once additionally the point of interest of its personal self-critique. Anxieties in regards to the inspiration and perform of irony persevered via Modernism, and feature lately been situated in Hollinghurst's paintings as a symptom of the political stasis inside post-modern tradition. pertaining to the hot debates in regards to the 'new aestheticism' and the politics of aesthetics, Eastham asks how a utopian Aestheticism might be reconstructed from the problematics of irony and aesthetic autonomy that haunted writers from Pater to Adorno.

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Extra info for Aesthetic Afterlives: Irony, Literary Modernity and the Ends of Beauty (Continuum Literary Studies)

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The want of space and the want of beauty’,10 and the Kyrle Society developed a series of subcommittees for ‘the diffusion of beauty’ in the urban environment, including branches for music and public space. Pater published ‘The School of Giorgione’ in the same year that the Kyrle established its Protestant and Ruskinian project, and while Pater’s aesthetic vision is in many ways diametrically opposed to Ruskin and the Kyrle’s idea of 20 Aesthetic Afterlives culture, he shares with Octavia Hill a fundamental utopian concern for the aesthetics of space, a concern which was mediated by the ideal of music.

Pater’s reading of the Concert effectively negotiates this theatrical system of gazes by displacing our attention from the visual field to the auditory relations between the figures. The tonsured figure to the right is in the process of bowing a viol and the clerk is waiting ‘upon the true interval for beginning to sing’ (R , 113). The interval here is effectively a pause in time, an expanded instant which becomes a moment of ‘dramatic poetry’ (R , 118). 28 What is individual to Pater’s ekphrasis of Venetian painting is that the effect of temporal expansion is to open and reveal the acoustic space of the painting.

The ‘great concert’ is conceived as the 34 Aesthetic Afterlives manifestation of ‘the race, the species, that Zeitgeist, or abstract secular process, in which, as we could have no direct consciousness of it, so we can pretend to no future personal interest’ (PP, 72). This implicitly associates the Platonic idea of music with Hegel’s organic conception of the state, a force which erases any personal conception of the future, ‘casting aside in its march, the souls of countless individuals’ (PP, 73).

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