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 crucial to trendy literary perform. studying probably 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 learn investigates the dialectical place of irony in Aestheticism and its twentieth-century afterlives.
Aesthetic Afterlives constructs a far-reaching theoretical narrative by means of positioning Victorian Aestheticism because the foundation of Literary Modernity. Aestheticism's cultivation of irony and reflexive detachment used to be crucial to this legacy, however it used to be additionally the point of interest of its personal self-critique. Anxieties in regards to the thought and perform of irony continued via Modernism, and feature lately been situated in Hollinghurst's paintings as a symptom of the political stasis inside of post-modern tradition. bearing on the hot debates in regards to the 'new aestheticism' and the politics of aesthetics, Eastham asks how a utopian Aestheticism may 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)
The system of gazes we are drawn to in the Concert is replaced by an organic system of relations between the elements – air, water and earth – and this is elucidated through a poetics of space. The catachrestic figure of sound ‘falling’ facilitates the transition between the visible pouring of water, the wave form of music and the imperceptible rain which is ‘newly passed through the air’. Air is the transparent medium in which the acoustic and aqueous elements have an invisible presence throughout the entirety of the medium.
The Political Critique of Soundscape in Plato and Platonism In acoustic space the listener achieves a unique absorption and harmony with environment, and in this sense Pater’s musical ideal fulfils the utopian aspirations of the Victorian Aesthetic Movement. But in many ways this ideal would prove to be problematic. One consequence of musical organicism is that the individual subject tends to be relegated in favour of an impersonal cosmic whole. In this sense it belies some of the most commonly cited and vivid tropes of Pater’s writing – such as the vampiric detachment he ascribes to La Gioconda, and the individualism of the ‘Conclusion’ to The Renaissance, with its focus on an isolated subjectivity grasping at temporary sensation.
The symbolic media for this passage are music and water, and if the element of air is the condition of music, it is in this acoustic dimension that air might be said to fulfi l its aesthetic destiny. The elemental force of Dionysian Anders- streben is clearly identified as the basis of the Giorgionesque Renaissance. In his wider consideration of the Dionysian legacy, Pater sees the sensuous acoustic space as one of two vital manifestations of the spirit of Dionysus in the Renaissance: It survived with undiminished interest to a later world, two of the greatest masters of Italian painting having poured their whole power into it: Titian with greater space of ingathered shore and mountain, and solemn foliage, and fiery animal life; Tintoret with profounder luxury of delight in the nearness to each other, and imminent embrace , of glorious bodily presences; and both alike with consummate beauty of physical form’.
Aesthetic Afterlives: Irony, Literary Modernity and the Ends of Beauty (Continuum Literary Studies) by Andrew Eastham