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Algernon Swinburne and Walter Pater: Victorian Aestheticism, Doubt and Secularisation

Lyons, Sara (2015) Algernon Swinburne and Walter Pater: Victorian Aestheticism, Doubt and Secularisation. Legenda, 300 pp. ISBN 978-1-909662-48-3. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:55643)

Language: English

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How did literary aestheticism emerge in Victorian England, with its competing models of religious doubt and visions of secularisation? For Lyons, the aestheticism developed and progressively revised by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) and Walter Pater (1839-1894) illuminates the contradictory impulses of modern secularism: on the one hand, a desire to cast itself as a form of neutrality or disinterestedness; on the other, a desire to affirm ‘this world’ as the place of human flourishing or even enchantment. The standard narrative of a ‘crisis of faith’ does not do justice to the fissured, uncertain quality of Victorian visions of secularisation. Precisely because it had the status of a confusing hypothesis rather than a self-evident reality, it provoked not only dread and melancholia, but also forms of fantasy. Within this context Lyons gives a fundamentally new account of the aims and nature of Victorian aestheticism, taking as a focus its deceptively simple claim that art is for art’s sake first of all.

Item Type: Book
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN80 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Sara Lyons
Date Deposited: 20 May 2016 13:33 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2023 08:15 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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