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Fateful beauty : aesthetic environments, juvenile development, and literature 1860-1960 /
Douglas Mao.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2008.
description
x, 319 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0691133484 (cloth), 9780691133485 (cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2008.
isbn
0691133484 (cloth)
9780691133485 (cloth)
catalogue key
6395927
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [289]-305) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Douglas Mao's Fateful Beauty is a compelling work of intellectual, social, and literary history that reclaims aestheticism as a revolutionary social as well as artistic creed. This magisterial and groundbreaking work should emerge as a standard one on the period. Mao is a writer who commands attention and respect through his scrupulous research, careful arguments, and eloquence as a cultural and literary critic."-- Maria DiBattista, Princeton University "This book provides a really original take on the literature of the fin de sicle and high modernism, suggesting how central the imaginative labor of literary works was to the social, philosophical, and cultural traditions of the period. Mao works out his claims with a subtlety, depth, and range of reference that is deeply impressive. The book is written with unusual clarity, precision, and grace, adding to ones sense that it is the product of a major critic coming into his own. A splendid piece of work."-- Jonathan Freedman, University of Michigan
Flap Copy
"Douglas Mao's Fateful Beauty is a compelling work of intellectual, social, and literary history that reclaims aestheticism as a revolutionary social as well as artistic creed. This magisterial and groundbreaking work should emerge as a standard one on the period. Mao is a writer who commands attention and respect through his scrupulous research, careful arguments, and eloquence as a cultural and literary critic."--Maria DiBattista, Princeton University "This book provides a really original take on the literature of the fin de si cle and high modernism, suggesting how central the imaginative labor of literary works was to the social, philosophical, and cultural traditions of the period. Mao works out his claims with a subtlety, depth, and range of reference that is deeply impressive. The book is written with unusual clarity, precision, and grace, adding to one's sense that it is the product of a major critic coming into his own. A splendid piece of work."--Jonathan Freedman, University of Michigan
Flap Copy
"Douglas Mao'sFateful Beautyis a compelling work of intellectual, social, and literary history that reclaims aestheticism as a revolutionary social as well as artistic creed. This magisterial and groundbreaking work should emerge as a standard one on the period. Mao is a writer who commands attention and respect through his scrupulous research, careful arguments, and eloquence as a cultural and literary critic."--Maria DiBattista, Princeton University "This book provides a really original take on the literature of the fin de siècle and high modernism, suggesting how central the imaginative labor of literary works was to the social, philosophical, and cultural traditions of the period. Mao works out his claims with a subtlety, depth, and range of reference that is deeply impressive. The book is written with unusual clarity, precision, and grace, adding to one's sense that it is the product of a major critic coming into his own. A splendid piece of work."--Jonathan Freedman, University of Michigan
Flap Copy
"Douglas Mao'sFateful Beautyis a compelling work of intellectual, social, and literary history that reclaims aestheticism as a revolutionary social as well as artistic creed. This magisterial and groundbreaking work should emerge as a standard one on the period. Mao is a writer who commands attention and respect through his scrupulous research, careful arguments, and eloquence as cultural and literary critic."--Maria DiBattista, Princeton University "This book provides a really original take on the literature of the fin de siegrave;cle and high modernism, suggesting how central the imaginative labor of literary works was to the social, philosophical, and cultural traditions of the period. Mao works out his claims with a subtlety, depth, and range of reference that is deeply impressive. The book is written with unusual clarity, precision, and grace, adding to one's sense that it is the product of a major critic coming into his own. A splendid piece of work."--Jonathan Freedman, University of Michigan
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-10-01:
This prodigiously learned, often prolix book focuses on a familiar question: to what extent does the environment in which children are raised shape their subsequent aesthetic tastes and moral characters? It is a subject on which one finds much assertion and little, if any, verifiable evidence. The formidably gifted Mao (Johns Hopkins Univ.) has chosen to concentrate on what novelists, poets, painters, philosophers, scientists, psychotherapists, and others wrote on this subject between 1860 and 1960. The major figures form a strikingly diverse group: Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Theodore Dreiser, Rebecca West, Walter Pater, and W. H. Auden. Some passages are brilliant, others tiresome and repetitive. A blizzard of references, many obscure, disfigures all too many pages. Gifted as the author is, the subject seems ill suited to a book of this length. Common sense and ordinary intuition certainly seem to justify belief in the salutary influence of beautiful surroundings. But is this true? Are artists themselves superior beings in their daily lives? Remember the Nazi death camp officers who went home to listen to Beethoven and Mozart after a day pushing men, women, and children into furnaces? Summing Up: Optional. For comprehensive collections. N. Fruman emeritus, University of Minnesota
Reviews
Review Quotes
[A]mong the many rich contributions of the book is the way it makes visible an intellectual genealogy for contemporary panic about childhood sexuality.
"[A]mong the many rich contributions of the book is the way it makes visible an intellectual genealogy for contemporary panic about childhood sexuality."-- Kevin Ohi, Victorian Studies
[A]mong the many rich contributions of the book is the way it makes visible an intellectual genealogy for contemporary panic about childhood sexuality. -- Kevin Ohi, Victorian Studies
[ Fateful Beauty ] should broaden conceptions about the engineering of ethics in childhood and adolescence. Ideally, it will inspire scholars to look to less obvious sources than the discourse of development for how literature enables (and is enabled by) the construction of the morally treacherous preadult years.
[Fateful Beauty] should broaden conceptions about the engineering of ethics in childhood and adolescence. Ideally, it will inspire scholars to look to less obvious sources than the discourse of development for how literature enables (and is enabled by) the construction of the morally treacherous preadult years.
"[ Fateful Beauty ] should broaden conceptions about the engineering of ethics in childhood and adolescence. Ideally, it will inspire scholars to look to less obvious sources than the discourse of development for how literature enables (and is enabled by) the construction of the morally treacherous preadult years."-- Kirk Curnutt, Journal of American History
[ Fateful Beauty ] should broaden conceptions about the engineering of ethics in childhood and adolescence. Ideally, it will inspire scholars to look to less obvious sources than the discourse of development for how literature enables (and is enabled by) the construction of the morally treacherous preadult years. -- Kirk Curnutt, Journal of American History
[Fateful Beauty] should broaden conceptions about the engineering of ethics in childhood and adolescence. Ideally, it will inspire scholars to look to less obvious sources than the discourse of development for how literature enables (and is enabled by) the construction of the morally treacherous preadult years. -- Kirk Curnutt, Journal of American History
Mao's consideration of aesthetics as a significant aspect in literary naturalism allows for a refreshingly unique consideration of Dreiser along with such significant literary figures as James Joyce, Rebecca West, and W. H. Auden. As a result, he has made an important contribution to the field that will surely inspire deeper examinations in the coming years.
"Mao's consideration of aesthetics as a significant aspect in literary naturalism allows for a refreshingly unique consideration of Dreiser along with such significant literary figures as James Joyce, Rebecca West, and W. H. Auden. As a result, he has made an important contribution to the field that will surely inspire deeper examinations in the coming years."-- Michael Shaw, Studies in American Naturalism
The inexhaustibility of aesthetic environments--inattentions waiting to happen--admittedly is reflected in the exhaustiveness of Fateful Beauty 's archive. Mao's local textual analyses are both animating and fastidious.
The inexhaustibility of aesthetic environments--inattentions waiting to happen--admittedly is reflected in the exhaustiveness ofFateful Beauty's archive. Mao's local textual analyses are both animating and fastidious.
"The inexhaustibility of aesthetic environments--inattentions waiting to happen--admittedly is reflected in the exhaustiveness of Fateful Beauty 's archive. Mao's local textual analyses are both animating and fastidious."-- Michael D. Snediker, Modernism/Modernity
The inexhaustibility of aesthetic environments--inattentions waiting to happen--admittedly is reflected in the exhaustiveness of Fateful Beauty 's archive. Mao's local textual analyses are both animating and fastidious. -- Michael D. Snediker, Modernism/Modernity
The inexhaustibility of aesthetic environments--inattentions waiting to happen--admittedly is reflected in the exhaustiveness ofFateful Beauty's archive. Mao's local textual analyses are both animating and fastidious. -- Michael D. Snediker, Modernism/Modernity
Douglas Mao'sFateful Beautyis a compelling work of intellectual, social, and literary history that reclaims aestheticism as a revolutionary social as well as artistic creed. This magisterial and groundbreaking work should emerge as a standard one on the period. Mao is a writer who commands attention and respect through his scrupulous research, careful arguments, and eloquence as a cultural and literary critic.
Douglas Mao'sFateful Beautyis a compelling work of intellectual, social, and literary history that reclaims aestheticism as a revolutionary social as well as artistic creed. This magisterial and groundbreaking work should emerge as a standard one on the period. Mao is a writer who commands attention and respect through his scrupulous research, careful arguments, and eloquence as cultural and literary critic.
This book provides a really original take on the literature of the fin de siècle and high modernism, suggesting how central the imaginative labor of literary works was to the social, philosophical, and cultural traditions of the period. Mao works out his claims with a subtlety, depth, and range of reference that is deeply impressive. The book is written with unusual clarity, precision, and grace, adding to one's sense that it is the product of a major critic coming into his own. A splendid piece of work.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, October 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
When Oscar Wilde said he had "seen wallpaper which must lead a boy brought up under its influence to a life of crime," his joke played on an idea that has often been taken quite seriously--both in Wilde's day and in our own. In Fateful Beauty , Douglas Mao recovers the lost intellectual, social, and literary history of the belief that the beauty--or ugliness--of the environment in which one is raised influences or even determines one's fate. Weaving together readings in literature, psychology, biology, philosophy, education, child-rearing advice, and interior design, he shows how this idea abetted a dramatic rise in attention to environment in many discourses and in many practices affecting the lives of the young between the late nineteenth century and the middle of the twentieth. Through original and detailed analyses of Wilde, Walter Pater, James Joyce, Theodore Dreiser, Rebecca West, and W. H. Auden, Mao shows that English-language writing of the period was informed in crucial but previously unrecognized ways by the possibility that beautiful environments might produce better people. He also reveals how these writers shared concerns about environment, evolution, determinism, freedom, and beauty with scientists and social theorists such as Herbert Spencer, Hermann von Helmholtz, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, and W.H.R. Rivers. In so doing, Mao challenges conventional views of the roles of beauty and the aesthetic in art and life during this time.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Introduction: Talking about Beautyp. 1
Stealthy Environmentsp. 18
Guarded Momentsp. 18
Significant Surroundingsp. 35
The Unconscious before Freudp. 45
Secrets of the Aestheticp. 56
Aestheticism's Environmentsp. 66
Walter Pater and the Child in the Housep. 66
Oscar Wilde and the Making of the Soulp. 81
Beauty and Freedomp. 101
Aesthetics of Acutenessp. 109
Aestheticism, Naturalism, Pater, Zola, Joyce, Dreiserp. 109
Chemical Action Set Up in the Soulp. 115
Why Integritasp. 129
Tropisms of Longingp. 139
Compulsions of the Bodyp. 139
Insidious Beautyp. 160
Onward, Onwardp. 166
Great House and Super-Cortexp. 177
West's Ancestral Enclosuresp. 177
Excitatory Complexesp. 193
Cultivating Treasonp. 203
Growing Up Awryp. 216
Auden's Hothouse Plantsp. 216
Evolution and Individuationp. 227
Showing Off, Setting Offp. 244
Epiloguep. 256
Notesp. 267
Referencesp. 289
Indexp. 307
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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