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 crucial to trendy literary perform. reading essentially the most very important debates in post-Romantic aesthetics via hugely concentrated 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 via positioning Victorian Aestheticism because the foundation of Literary Modernity. Aestheticism's cultivation of irony and reflexive detachment was once vital to this legacy, however it used to be additionally the focal point 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. touching on 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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Extra resources for Aesthetic Afterlives: Irony, Literary Modernity and the Ends of Beauty (Continuum Literary Studies)
Titian’s paintings provide a ‘greater space of ingathered shore and mountain’, and in doing so they project a natural landscape as an aesthetic form; in a properly Hegelian but counter- Ruskinian dialectic, nature is not only supplemented but raised or sublated by art. Space is artistic only when it is organized and ‘ingathered’ – this is the provenance of architecture, which confi nes and institutes space, whereas landscape is the platform for our experience of the sky, where the sense of limits and organization dissolves.
His poetics of acoustic space both preserves and deflects this erotic possibility. Renaissance art transmits the Dionysian while masking its more subversive currents, just as the old gods persisted in disguise in the religions of modernity. The Olympian Religion and the Consecration of Sense In ‘A Study of Dionysus’, Pater’s erotic aesthetics of music is accompanied by a social and religious dimension, which is suggested in the account of the Giorgionesque but is more fundamental to the Dionysian.
The indeterminate encounter with chance company is indistinguishable from the momentary touch of an instrument, but Pater’s catachresis here is telling. Throughout his essay he has consistently promoted the acousmatic dimension of music – the conditions of sound – over the means of its production – the instrument. But in this case the ‘touch’ of the sound wave is misidentified as ‘an instrument in the twilight’. This serves only to further accentuate the erotics of the encounter by giving music’s touch the embodied form of an object – a transitional object, a fetish, by which music returns from its abstraction to the ‘fiery animal life’ of an unfamiliar room.
Aesthetic Afterlives: Irony, Literary Modernity and the Ends of Beauty (Continuum Literary Studies) by Andrew Eastham