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Literature and the politics of post-Victorian decadence / Kristin Mahoney, Western Washington University.

By: Mahoney, Kristin Mary [author.].
Material type: TextTextPublisher: New York, NY, USA : Cambridge University Press, 2015Copyright date: ©2015Description: xi, 259 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781107109742; 1107109744.Subject(s): Decadence (Literary movement) -- Great Britain | Modernism (Aesthetics) -- Great Britain | Modernism (Literature) -- Great BritainDDC classification: 820.9/0091 Other classification: LIT004120 | 18.05
Contents:
Introduction: The Fighting Nineties: The Age Of The Critical Function -- "Queer Indifference": Max Beerbohm, Post-Victorian Decadence, And Camp Nostalgia -- Pacifism and Post-Victorian Decadence: Vernon Lee at the Margins of the Twentieth Century -- "Towards Aristocracy": Baron Corvo and the Corvine Society -- Irish Decadence, Occultism, and Sacrificial Myth: The Martyrdom of Althea Gyles -- Crusading Decadent: Beresford Egan, Global Dandyism, and Post-Victorian Decadent Feminism -- Afterword: Notes on Post-Victorian Decadence after the Wars.
Summary: "In Literature and the Politics of Post-Victorian Decadence, Kristin Mahoney argues that the early twentieth century was a period in which the specters of the fin de siècle exercised a remarkable draw on the modern cultural imagination and troubled emergent avant-gardistes. These authors and artists refused to assimilate to the aesthetic and political ethos of the era, representing themselves instead as time travelers from the previous century for whom twentieth-century modernity was both baffling and disappointing. However, they did not turn entirely from the modern moment, but rather relied on decadent strategies to participate in conversations concerning the most highly-vexed issues of the period including war, the rise of the Labour Party, the question of women's sexual freedom, and changing conceptions of sexual and gender identities"-- Provided by publisher.
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"In Literature and the Politics of Post-Victorian Decadence, Kristin Mahoney argues that the early twentieth century was a period in which the specters of the fin de siècle exercised a remarkable draw on the modern cultural imagination and troubled emergent avant-gardistes. These authors and artists refused to assimilate to the aesthetic and political ethos of the era, representing themselves instead as time travelers from the previous century for whom twentieth-century modernity was both baffling and disappointing. However, they did not turn entirely from the modern moment, but rather relied on decadent strategies to participate in conversations concerning the most highly-vexed issues of the period including war, the rise of the Labour Party, the question of women's sexual freedom, and changing conceptions of sexual and gender identities"-- Provided by publisher.

Includes bibliographical references (pages 237-251) and index.

Introduction: The Fighting Nineties: The Age Of The Critical Function -- "Queer Indifference": Max Beerbohm, Post-Victorian Decadence, And Camp Nostalgia -- Pacifism and Post-Victorian Decadence: Vernon Lee at the Margins of the Twentieth Century -- "Towards Aristocracy": Baron Corvo and the Corvine Society -- Irish Decadence, Occultism, and Sacrificial Myth: The Martyrdom of Althea Gyles -- Crusading Decadent: Beresford Egan, Global Dandyism, and Post-Victorian Decadent Feminism -- Afterword: Notes on Post-Victorian Decadence after the Wars.

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CHOICE Review

In her introduction, Mahoney (Western Washington Univ.) defines decadence of the 1890s as "a loosely connected set of aesthetic practices and political postures" adopted by artists and writers such as Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley, and the Yellow Book circle. In this well-argued, lucidly written study, the author examines how decadent stances--detachment, irony, cosmopolitanism, and progressive gender politics--were reinvigorated and revised by post-Victorian modernists. Chapters focus on Max Beerbohm and Vernon Lee, whose careers spanned decadence and post-Victorian modernism; the post-Victorian dandy A. J. A. Symons, who spurred interest in the political and economic thought of the obscure decadent writer Baron Corvo by writing a biography and establishing the Corvine Society; Irish writer Althea Gyles, whose works drew on Yeats's Celtic occultism; and Beresford Egan, who saw in decadence a critique of British sexual politics. Mahoney's examination, in the fifth and last chapter, of Egan's novels brings to light a definition of the female dandy, who "heralds a new model of interwar femininity." Mahoney's incisive work contributes to recent scholarship complicating the Victorian/modern divide and offers a fresh view by investigating figures who, to quote again from the introduction, "purposefully and defiantly practiced an aesthetic of the recent past." Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. --Linda Simon, emerita, Skidmore College

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