By Andrew Eastham
Because the improvement of British Aestheticism within the 1870s, the idea that of irony has concentrated a sequence of anxieties that are imperative to trendy literary perform. interpreting probably the most very important debates in post-Romantic aesthetics via hugely targeted textual readings of authors from Walter Pater and Henry James to Samuel Beckett and Alan Hollinghurst, this examine investigates the dialectical place of irony in Aestheticism and its twentieth-century afterlives.
Aesthetic Afterlives constructs a far-reaching theoretical narrative by way of positioning Victorian Aestheticism because the foundation of Literary Modernity. Aestheticism's cultivation of irony and reflexive detachment was once crucial 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 endured via Modernism, and feature lately been situated in Hollinghurst's paintings as a symptom of the political stasis inside of post-modern tradition. pertaining to the new debates in regards to the 'new aestheticism' and the politics of aesthetics, Eastham asks how a utopian Aestheticism should be reconstructed from the problematics of irony and aesthetic autonomy that haunted writers from Pater to Adorno.
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Additional resources for Aesthetic Afterlives: Irony, Literary Modernity and the Ends of Beauty (Continuum Literary Studies)
Roger Scruton has described this as the ‘acousmatic’ quality of music,24 but while Hegel also pays attention to the passage from vibrating instrument to the air, he fails to account for the sensuous spatial being of music. Hegel defines music’s coming-to-be as a double negation; sound negates the instrument of production, then ‘in its coming-to-be is annihilated again by its very existence, and it vanishes of itself’ (A , II, 890). This negative process works specifically against the space of painting; it is a ‘renunciation beginning with the sensuous spatiality of the visual arts themselves’.
What is surprising about Hegel’s analysis of aesthetic conditions is that he sets out the terms for a dialectical conception of the relationship between painting and music but does not follow this through. Pater’s originality as an aesthetic theorist is that he retrieves from Hegel’s account the spatiality of music and, conversely, restores the soundscape of painting. The way that Pater represents this achievement is subtly different according to the qualities of the two major paintings he evokes.
Like Stoker’s Dracula, Baudelaire’s gothic irony subsequently migrated across Europe into the very soils where the Arts and Crafts movement was developing its more earnest ideals of artistic labour as the re-humanizing of an impoverished industrial landscape. If Ruskin and Morris were striving to formulate a democratic ideal of an aesthetic life, then the influence of Baudelaire on figures such as Swinburne and Pater would assist the development of an alternative strand in British Aestheticism, where a refined aesthetic subjectivity began to replace the labouring craftsman and a spectral and haunted gothic replaced Ruskin’s civic model of gothic culture.