Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture (Edinburgh by Michèle Mendelssohn

By Michèle Mendelssohn

This e-book, the 1st totally sustained analyzing of Henry James's and Oscar Wilde's courting, finds why the antagonisms among either authors are symptomatic of the cultural oppositions inside Aestheticism itself. The ebook additionally exhibits how those conflicting energies lively the overdue 19th century's most enjoyable transatlantic cultural firm. Richly illustrated and traditionally specified, this learn of James's and Wilde's complicated, decades-long dating brings to mild Aestheticism's really transatlantic nature via shut readings of either authors' works, in addition to nineteenth-century artwork, periodicals and infrequent manuscripts. As Mendelssohn exhibits, either authors have been deeply motivated by way of the visible and ornamental arts, and through modern artists reminiscent of George Du Maurier and James McNeill Whistler. Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic tradition bargains a nuanced analyzing of a posh dating that grants to rework the best way we think past due nineteenth-century British and American literary culture.

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Extra resources for Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture (Edinburgh Studies in Transatlantic Literatures)

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I discuss shame in Chapter 4. See ‘Making a Scene: Henry James’s Theater of Embarassment,’ in Litvak, Caught in The Act, 195–234. See, for example, Ellmann, ‘Henry James Among the Aesthetes’, 26. Notable exceptions to this trend are Tessa Hadley, Henry James and the Imagination of Pleasure (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002); Eric Haralson, Henry James and Queer Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003). Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, 412. Sigmund Freud, ‘Thoughts for the Times on War and Death’, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed.

By examining James’s early depictions of aesthetes in light of Wilde’s self-presentation and George Du Maurier’s illustrations for Punch and Washington Square, this chapter shows that James developed, codified and catalogued aesthetic modes of being long before Wilde entered on the scene. It also reveals James’s vigorous efforts to write an American narrative of Aestheticism’s origins, and to create ex post facto a vibrant American prehistory for the ideas that imbued British Aestheticism. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the anxiety of authenticity that emerged in conjunction with Aestheticism’s reformation in the late 1880s.

After I had been to Mrs Robeson’s they mobbed me for revelations’ (LL 135). Marian Adams warned James that she would not receive Wilde, whom she took to be James’s comrade. ‘I have asked Henry James not to bring his friend Oscar Wilde when he comes; I must keep out thieves and noodles or else take down my sign and go West’,29 she wrote. What did she mean by calling James and Wilde ‘friends’? She may have assumed that they had met in London, or that their shared artistic interests would have made them sympathetic to each other, and it is likely that her allusion was intended to encapsulate both these sentiments.

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