Victorian Culture and the Idea of the Grotesque

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Colin Trodd, Paul Barlow, David Amigoni
Ashgate, 1999 - Art - 212 pages
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Monstrous, absurd, humorous, demotic and contradictory: the Grotesque is a protean force working across different areas of Victorian life. This book, the first fully interdisciplinary study of the subject, examines a wide range of sources and materials in order to provide new readings of an important force that oscillates between 'style' and 'concept'. These specially commissioned essays provide original readings of key articulations of the Grotesque: the literary culture of Ruskin, Browning and Dickens, where it is a sign of the eruptions, intensities, confusions and disturbed vitality of modern cultural experience; the scientific revolution associated with Darwin, where it generates speculation about biological forces, bodily energies, and mutations in nature, the social and historical literature of Carlyle, where it hovers on the edge of visibility, at once a transgression of the nature of industrial society and its purest manifestation.The invaluable introduction looks at proliferations of the Grotesque in Victorian culture. Dealing with literature, history, social theory, art, design, science, popular culture, art criticism and aesthetics, it seeks to demonstrate the connections and tensions between these orders of cultural life.Individual essays interweave the familiar with the unfamiliar, looking anew at the archives while offering original interpretations of important figures including Browning, Carlyle, Ruskin, Ford Maddox Brown, Dadd, Watts, Dresser and Stephen. Their work is seen alongside hitherto neglected figures such as the historians Thomas Wright and William Fairholt, the sculptors Thomas Woolner and James O'Shea, and the designer Wallace Martin.

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