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Neurasthenia in the life and work of Leonid Andreev

By the first decade of the twentieth century, Russia was experiencing a decadent period of cultural degeneration. Simultaneous with this artistic response, science was developing ways to identify medical conditions that supposedly reflected the health of the entire nation. Leonid Andreev (1871–1919), the leading literary figure of his time, stepped into the breech of this scientific discourse with literary works about degenerates. The spirited social debates on mental illness, morality and sexual deviance which resulted from these works became part of the ongoing battle over the definition and depiction of the irrational, complicated by Andreev’s own publicized bouts with neurasthenia. Specific to the study is the way in which Andreev readily accepted and incorporated scientific conjecture into his cultural production and how these works were in turn cited by medical authorities as confirmation of their theories, creating a circular argument. This book demonstrates the implications of scientific discourse on Russian concepts of mental illness and national health. It examines the concept of pathology in Russia, the influence of European medical discourse, the development of Russian psychiatry, and the role that it had on popular culture by investigating the life and works of Andreev. Although widely discussed in its European context, degeneration theory has not been afforded the same scholarly attention in Russian cultural studies. As a result, this study extends and challenges scholarship on the Russian fin de siècle, the emergence of psychiatry as a new medical science, and the role that art played in the development of this objective science.

Steve Poole

6 Lunacy and politics at fin de siècle, 1800–3 The extraordinary flurry of physical interference with the King during the months between the assassination attempts of James Hadfield and Urban Metcalf in 1800–1, and the consequent ‘Despard conspiracy’ of 1801–2, may perhaps be seen as the fin de siècle climax of popular-royal physicality. It is not, however, simply a question of evaluating the extent to which the language of resistance in post-1794 radicalism may be considered contextual. If one of the consequences of the Two Acts was the forcing of radicalism

in The politics of regicide in England, 1760–1850
Unspeakability in Vernon Lee‘s Supernatural Stories
Emma Liggins

Vernon Lees supernatural fiction provides an interesting test case for speculations about the function of spectrality for women writers on the cusp of the modern era. This article argues that spectrality, in line with Julian Wolfreys’ theories about the ‘hauntological disturbance’ in Victorian Gothic (2002), is both disruptive and desirable, informing the narratives we construct of modernity. It traces the links between the ‘unspeakable’ spectral encounter and contemporary attitudes to gender and sexuality in stories in Vernon Lees collection Hauntings (1890), as well as her Yellow Book story ‘Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady’ (1897). The ghostly encounter is erotic and welcomed as well as fearful, used to comment on the shortcomings of heterosexual marriage and bourgeois life, though this often results in the troubling spectacle of the ravished, mutilated or bloody female corpse. Lees negotiation of unspeakability and the desire for the ghostly is compared to the more graphic depictions of the dead female in stories from E. Nesbits Grim Tales (1893). Representations of the female revenant are considered in relation to the psychoanalytic readings of the otherness of the female corpse put forward by Elisabeth Bronfen (1992).

Gothic Studies
Birgit Lang

2 Fin-de-siècle investigations of the ‘creative genius’ in psychiatry and psychoanalysis Birgit Lang In Victorian society, admiration for the ‘creative genius’ abounded. It was based on stereotypical notions of the Romantic artist, who, ‘by the neat and necessarily contradictory logic of aesthetic elevation and social exclusion, [was] both a great genius and greatly misunderstood’.1 In Germany the propensity to idealise the artist as a creative genius was further propelled by intellectuals’ and writers’ contribution to imagining the German nation throughout the

in A history of the case study

This collection of essays seeks to question the security of our assumptions about the fin de siècle by exploring the fiction of Richard Marsh, an important but neglected professional author. Richard Bernard Heldmann (1857–1915) began his literary career as a writer of boys’ fiction, but, following a prison sentence for fraud, reinvented himself as ‘Richard Marsh’ in 1888. Marsh was a prolific and popular author of middlebrow genre fiction including Gothic, crime, humour, romance and adventure, whose bestselling Gothic novel The Beetle: A Mystery (1897) outsold Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Building on a burgeoning interest in Marsh’s writing, this collection of essays examines a broad array of Marsh’s genre fictions through the lens of cutting-edge critical theory, including print culture, New Historicism, disability studies, genre theory, New Economic Criticism, gender theory, postcolonial studies, thing theory, psychoanalysis, object relations theory and art history, producing innovative readings not only of Marsh but of the fin-de-siècle period. Marsh emerges here as a versatile contributor to the literary and journalistic culture of his time whose stories of shape-shifting monsters, daring but morally dubious heroes, lip-reading female detectives and objects that come to life helped to shape the genres of fiction with which we are familiar today. Marsh’s fictions reflect contemporary themes and anxieties while often offering unexpected, subversive and even counter-hegemonic takes on dominant narratives of gender, criminality, race and class, unsettling our perceptions of the fin de siècle.

Becoming-Fungus in Arthur Machen‘s The Hill of Dreams
Anthony Camara

This paper examines the role fungi play in Arthur Machen‘s Decadent classic The Hill of Dreams (1907), a supernatural novel written in the 1890s. Ostensibly an idiosyncratic topic, the novels concern with these organisms devolves on an inquiry into the nature of life itself, of whether it is the result of a spiritual life-force or a haphazard assemblage of matter. In this way, Machen‘s novel participates in the fin de siècle debates between vitalism and materialism. Rather than attempting to resolve this debate, the novel seizes on tensions inherent in fungal life in order to dissolve the concept of life altogether, to suggest its horrifying unreality.

Gothic Studies
The Urban Gothic of Fin-de-Siècle London and Gotham City
Erica McCrystal

Gothic literature set in fin-de-siècle London has often been argued to highlight duality. However, the urban Gothic truly flourishes through its liminality, which allows chaos and order to coexist. Texts such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray offer versions of a Gothic London that have the appearance of structure but are difficult to navigate. Likewise, the Batman franchise has embraced Gotham City as a setting that provides tensions between order and chaos. In Gotham, as in fin-de-siècle London, liminality puts pressures on apparent boundaries. While the urban Gothic initially developed through nineteenth century British texts, modern-day comics and films within the Batman franchise have allowed us to see how a multiverse normalises liminality and embraces multiple works to speak collectively about Gothic tensions. This article analyses the liminal nature of the urban Gothic in both cities side by side to argue that the urban Gothic’s liminal nature allows instability to reign.

Gothic Studies

Suicide and the Gothic is the first protracted study of how the act of self-destruction recurs and functions within one of the most enduring and popular forms of fiction. Comprising eleven original essays and an authoritative introduction, this collection explores how the act of suicide has been portrayed, interrogated and pathologised from the eighteenth century to the present. The featured fictions include both the enduringly canonical and the less studied, and the geographical compass of the work embraces not merely British, European and American authors but also the highly pertinent issue of self-destruction in modern Japanese culture. Featuring detailed interventions into the understanding of texts as temporally distant as Thomas Percy’s Reliques and Patricia Highsmith’s crime fictions, and movements as diverse as Wertherism, Romanticism and fin-de-siècle decadence, Suicide and the Gothic provides a comprehensive and compelling overview of this recurrent crisis – a crisis that has personal, familial, religious, legal and medical implications – in fiction and culture. Suicide and the Gothic will prove a central – and provocative – resource for those engaged in the study of the genre from the eighteenth century onwards, but will also support scholars working in complementary literary fields from Romanticism to crime fiction and theoretical disciplines from the medical humanities to Queer Studies, as well as the broader fields of American and European studies. Its contents are as relevant to the undergraduate reader as they are to the advanced postgraduate and the faculty member: suicide is a crucial subject in culture as well as criticism.

Peace, progress and prestige
Author: Daniel Laqua

This study investigates internationalism through the prism of a small European country. It explores an age in which many groups and communities – from socialists to scientists – organised themselves across national borders. Belgium was a major hub for transnational movements. By taking this small and yet significant European country as a focal point, the book critically examines major historical issues, including nationalism, colonial expansion, political activism and international relations. A main aim is to reveal the multifarious and sometimes contradictory nature of internationalism. The Belgian case shows how within one particular country, different forms of internationalism sometimes clashed and sometimes converged.

The book is organised around political movements and intellectual currents that had a strong presence in Belgium. Each of the main chapters is dedicated to a key theme in European history: nationhood, empire, the relationship between church and state, political and social equality, peace, and universalism. The timeframe ranges from the fin de siècle to the interwar years. It thus covers the rise of international associations before the First World War, the impact of the conflagration of 1914, and the emergence of new actors such as the League of Nations.

With its discussion of campaigns and activities that ranged beyond the nation-state, this study is instructive for anyone interested in transnational approaches to history.

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Manliness and Mesmerism in Richard Marsh‘s The Beetle
Natasha Rebry

Through an analysis of Richard Marsh‘s The Beetle (1897), this article explores a link between the practice of mesmerism and Victorian insecurities about the state of masculinity. It argues that The Beetle attempts– through the characterisation of mesmeric power as a dangerous virile energy and suggestibility to trance as effeminate and degenerate– to make a clear but highly unstable distinction between ideal and deviant forms of masculinity. In the process, Marsh‘s novel illuminates a complex relationship between the permeability of mind, body, and nation that paradoxically serves to both uphold and undermine the virility of the British male subject.

Gothic Studies