Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Idleness and Aesthetic Consciousness, 1815–1900


Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: August 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108424134

£ 75.00

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Charting the failure of the Romantic critique of political economy, Richard Adelman explores the changing significances and the developing concepts of idleness and aesthetic consciousness during the nineteenth century. Through careful analysis of some of the period's most influential thinkers, including John Stuart Mill, George Eliot, John Ruskin and Karl Marx, Adelman weaves together evolving ideas across a range of intellectual discourses - political economy, meditative poetry, the ideology of the 'gospel of work', cultural theory, the Gothic and psychoanalysis. In doing so, he reconstructs debates over passivity and repose and demonstrates their centrality to the cultural politics of the age. Arguing that hardened conceptions of aesthetic consciousness come into being at moments of civic unrest concerning political representation and that the fin-de-siècle witnesses the demonization of the once revolutionary category of aesthetic consciousness, the book demonstrates that late eighteenth-century positivity around human spirituality is comprehensively dismantled by the beginning of the twentieth century.

    • Traces changing perceptions of idleness and aesthetic consciousness across a wide range of intellectual discourses
    • Draws on a wide range of the nineteenth century's most influential thinkers, including John Stuart Mill, George Eliot, John Ruskin and Karl Marx
    • Reconstructs debates over passivity and repose and their influence on cultural politics between 1815 and 1900
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a lucidly written and very valuable study in an area of research that is growing ever more germane to our present lives; Adelman's attentiveness to the social and political promise which resides within the vita contemplativa is particularly moving and welcome.' Adelais Mills, British Society for Literature and Science Reviews (

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108424134
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Idleness, moral consciousness and sociability
    2. Political economy and the logic of idleness
    3. The 'gospel of work'
    4. Cultural theory and aesthetic failure
    5. The Gothicization of idleness
    Epilogue: substitutive satisfaction

  • Author

    Richard Adelman, University of Sussex
    Richard Adelman is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Sussex. His previously published work includes Idleness, Contemplation and the Aesthetic, 1750-1830 (Cambridge, 2011), Political Economy, Literature and the Formation of Knowledge (2018; edited with Catherine Packham), as well as numerous essays on figures including Dante Rossetti, John Ruskin, William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, John Keats and J. M. Coetzee.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.