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Modernism and the Aesthetics of Violence

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  • Date Published: August 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107036833

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  • The notion that violence can give rise to art - and that art can serve as an agent of violence - is a dominant feature of modernist literature. In this study Paul Sheehan traces the modernist fascination with violence to the middle decades of the nineteenth century, when certain French and English writers sought to celebrate dissident sexualities and stylized criminality. Sheehan presents a panoramic view of how the aesthetics of transgression gradually mutates into an infatuation with destruction and upheaval, identifying the First World War as the event through which the modernist aesthetic of violence crystallizes. By engaging with exemplary modernists such as Joyce, Conrad, Eliot and Pound, as well as lesser-known writers including Gautier, Sacher-Masoch, Wyndham Lewis and others, Sheehan shows how artworks, so often associated with creative well-being and communicative self-expression, can be reoriented toward violent and bellicose ends.

    • Provides a compelling narrative of Victorian sexualities, showing the shift from nineteenth-century aestheticism and decadence to twentieth-century modernism
    • Offers a vivid portrait of literary London in the 1910s and in the build-up to the First World War, detailing the artistic consequences that ensued in its aftermath
    • Presents an original narrative of theatricality, in both art and life, from nineteenth-century dandyism to the phenomenon of 'masculinist' modernism
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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107036833
    • length: 238 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: modernism's blasted history
    Part I. Decadence Rising: The Violence of Aestheticism:
    1. Revolution of the senses
    2. Victorian sexual aesthetics
    3. Culture, corruption, criminality
    4. A malady of dreaming: The Picture of Dorian Gray
    Part II. Modernism's Breach: The Violence of Aesthetics:
    5. Prologue: transgression displaced
    6. No dreaming pale flowers
    7. Modernist sexual politics
    8. Maximum energy (like a hurricane)
    9. Forbidden planet: Heart of Darkness
    Epilogue: traumas of the world
    Notes
    Bibliography.

  • Author

    Paul Sheehan, Macquarie University, Sydney
    Paul Sheehan is a senior lecturer in English at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Modernism, Narrative and Humanism (2002) and the editor of Becoming Human: New Perspectives on the Inhuman Condition (2003). Most recently he has published essays in SubStance, Twentieth-Century Literature and Textual Practice, as well as book chapters on Thomas De Quincey, Cormac McCarthy and Ralph Ellison, and several articles on Samuel Beckett.

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