This an original theoretical reading of the emergence of British literary modernity, beginning with Victorian Aestheticism and tracing its afterlives into the 21st Century. Since the development of British Aestheticism in the 1870's, the concept of irony has focused a series of anxieties which are integral to modern literary practice. Examining some of the most important debates in post-Romantic aesthetics through highly focused textual readings of authors from Walter Pater and Henry James to Samuel Beckett and Alan Hollinghurst, this study investigates the dialectical position of irony in Aestheticism and Modernism. "Aesthetic Afterlives" constructs a far-reaching theoretical narrative by reading this dialectical condition back from the end of the twentieth century to the Victorian fin de siecle and to the emergence of Modernism. Referring to the recent debates about the 'new aestheticism' and to Ranciere's work on the politics of aesthetics, Eastham asks how a utopian Aestheticism can be reconstructed from the problematics of irony and aesthetic autonomy that haunted writers from Pater to Adorno.
Andrew Eastham is a Visiting Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.
Aestheticism; 1. Walter Pater's Acoustic Space: Dionysian Andersstreben and the Politics of Aestheticism; 2. Aesthetic Vampirism: Pater, Wilde, and the Concept of Irony; 3. 'Master of Irony': Henry James, Transatlantic Bildung, and the Critique of Aestheticism; 4. James's Late Fiction and the Return of the Sublime; 5. Diaphanous Gothic: Vernon Lee's Literary Absolute Afterlives; 6. Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and the Redress of Paterian Impressionism; 7.Irony's Sacrifice: D.H. Lawrence, Instrumental Rationality and the Dialectics of Modernity.; 8. Sublime Ironies: Samuel Beckett and the Remainders of Romanticism; 9. Aristocracies of Mourning: Evelyn Waugh, H.D., and the Deconsecration of Aestheticism; 10. Inoperative Ironies: Alan Hollinghurst, Jamesian Aestheticism and Post-modern Culture; 11. The Aesthetic Afterlives of Mr W.P.: Reanimating Pater in 21st Century Fiction; Index.