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Aestheticism

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Par   •  12 Février 2018  •  Cours  •  383 Mots (2 Pages)  •  239 Vues

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The literature of the Victorian age (1837 – 1895) was dominated by realism. The victorian men of letters, born as they were in an era of strong rational industrial and agnostic movements had no choice but to write about the dominance of these forces over the individuals and institutions. They responded to the challenges of their time and wanted to reach the truth.

1. Literature of this age tends to come closer to daily life which reflects its practical problems and interests. It becomes a powerful instrument for human progress. Socially & economically, Industrialism was on the rise and various reform movements like emancipation, child labor, women’s rights, and evolution.

2. Moral Purpose : faith in their moral message to instruct the world. Virtue would be rewarded and wrongdoers are suitably punished It is often considered as an age of doubt and pessimism. The influence of science is felt here. The whole age seems to be caught in the conception of man in relation to the universe with the idea of evolution. For example, Ruskin, art critic and essayist, wanted to improve working class condition and called for political responsibilty. But in the 1840s he said that art should only convey beauty. In this manner, he greatly influenced Wilde who was his student at Oxford in the 1870s. But for him, beauty was only important because it reflected God's divine attributes infused in nature.

The writers then escaped from harsh realities and made of beauty and sensuousness their only religion. This pursue of pure art ils incarnated by the pre raphaelites and the art critic Walter Pater. He wrote his aesthetic manifesto, The Renaissance in 1873 to criticise Ruskin’s the stones of venice. For Pater art should give pleasure. For Ruskin medieval venice is beautiful because it reflects a wholesome social order à communal life and a desire to celebrate the glory of God. Art for Ruskin should redeem the world whereas Pater argues its mission is not to change society but yourself.

In this debate, Wilde and the Aesthetes seem to have followed Pater’s teachings. They rejected Ruskin's basic method of judging a painting "by the number of noble and moral ideas that he found in it". However most of their most outrageous statements about art and nature come straight from Ruskin.

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