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Title: Fruit, water, ice, glass, gold : images of human beauty in post-1980 Anglophone fiction
Author: Hart, Carina
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 1447
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2012
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The 1960s and 1970s witnessed a critique of the concept of beauty in art and philosophy (McGann 190), with Christopher Janaway characterising aesthetics as the Cinderella of philosophy who “doesn’t make it to the ball” (vii). However, since around 1980 an increasing number of artistic and critical voices have begun to speak about beauty once again. Anglophone novels of this period, from 1980 to 2012, show a particular engagement with the subject through their exploration of human beauty. By figuring the beauty of characters in metaphorical terms, they demonstrate that conceptions of human beauty as either a sinful, fleshly temptation or an abstract ideal can be transformed. Five specific metaphors through which this is achieved form the subject of analysis for this thesis: fruit, water, ice, glass and gold. Ten post-1980 novels are examined in their use of these metaphors to reformulate human beauty. ! The preoccupation with the transformation and rewriting of beauty will be shown to indicate a distinct trend in post-1980 fiction, one which enacts a notable move away from fiction regarded as postmodernist. It will be demonstrated that the present concern with beauty emerges from the emphasis on surfaces in postmodernist fiction (Waugh, Practising Postmodernism 4), but that contemporary novels are characterised by a reconstructive and transformative approach which is less evident in earlier fiction. This transformative approach is directed to the division of beauty into concrete and abstract by philosophers such as Plato, Augustine, Kant and Adorno. In post-1980 fiction and the critical work of Wendy Steiner, Denis Donoghue, James Kirwan and others, this dichotomy is profoundly challenged. This thesis engages with these aesthetic philosophies in close readings of the ten chosen novels, to expound how the relationship between concrete and abstract human beauty is represented and rewritten in post-1980 fiction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available