Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siècle: Identity and Empire

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 29, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 235 pages
It has been widely recognized that British culture in the 1880s and 1890s was marked by a sense of irretrievable decline. Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siecle explores the ways in which that perception of loss was cast into narrative, into archetypal stories which sought to account for the culture's troubles and perhaps assuage its anxieties. Stephen Arata pays close attention to fin-de-siecle representations of three forms of decline - national, biological, and aesthetic - and reveals how late-Victorian degeneration theory was used to 'explain' such decline. By examining a wide range of writers - from Kipling to Wilde, from Symonds to Conan Doyle and Stoker - Arata shows how the nation's twin obsessions with decadence and imperialism became intertwined in the thought of the period. His account offers new insights for students and scholars of the fin de siecle.
 

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Contents

Indroduction Decline and fall
1
Part One Strange cases common fates
9
Part Two Between the body and history
77
Part Three The sins of empire
105
Conclusion Modernist empires and the rise of English
178
Notes
185
Index
229
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