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Extraordinary Aesthetes: Decadents, New Women, and Fin-de-Siècle Culture

Edited by Joseph Bristow

The fin de siècle not only designated the end of the Victorian epoch but also marked a significant turn towards modernism. Extraordinary Aesthetes critically examines literary and visual artists from England, Ireland, and Scotland whose careers in poetry, fiction, and illustration flourished during the concluding years of the nineteenth century.

This collection draws special attention to the exceptional contributions that artists, poets, and novelists made to the cultural world of the late 1880s and 1890s. The essays illuminate a range of established, increasingly acknowledged, and lesser-known figures whose contributions to this brief but remarkably intense cultural period warrant close attention. Such figures include the critically neglected Mabel Dearmer, whose stunning illustrations appear in Evelyn Sharp’s radical fairy tales for children. Equally noteworthy is the uncompromising short fiction of Ella D’Arcy, who played a pivotal role in editing the most famous journal of the 1890s, The Yellow Book. The discussion extends to a range of legendary writers, including Max Beerbohm, Oscar Wilde, and W.B. Yeats, whose works are placed in dialogue with authors who gained prominence during this period. Bringing women’s writing to the fore, Extraordinary Aesthetes rebalances the achievements of artists and writers during the rapidly transforming cultural world of the fin de siècle.

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