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Title: Merely Gothic in disguise? : discontinuity, continuity and the aesthetics of British modernism
Author: Fletcher, Christopher John Yates
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1992
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The ideology of early British Modernism, as derived by Eliot and Pound primarily from the writings of T.E. Hulme, is focused on a valorization of the Primitive, Byzantine or 'Classical' (objective) and a rejection of the Romantic (subjective). In Hulme's work, however, it can be shown that this opposition is based on a fundamental misreading of one of his principal sources - Wilhelm Worringer, a contradiction the wider aesthetic significances of which were being referenced at the time by the English aesthetician Vernon Lee. For Worringer, although asserting the importance of abstraction and objectivity in art, linked those aspects with the need for an equal subjectivity and emotionalism (or empathy), a union which he felt to be fulfilled in traditions on Northern Gothic art which stood as an equivalent to the formalist traditions which held such sway with early Modernist poets. Worringer's influential texts provide a means of seeing the development of Modernism in Britain not as being in discontinuity with the thought which preceded and followed it, but as the continuous development and refinement of a single set of aesthetic issues stemming from Kant and Hegel and in debate among theorists of the early twentieth century. A broad context of neo-Romantic poets, painters and writers like David Jones, Paul Nash, John Piper and members of movements such as The New Apocalypse, all of whom are often argued to be in direct opposition to Modernism, can thus be seen to be the product of the working out of the consequences of an initial position which, in the works of theorists like Jacques Maritain, came to realize its own incompleteness. Modernism in Britain, under the influence of art-historians like Worringer and theorists such as Maritain, moves steadily from abstraction and objectivity to an attempt to fulfil the aesthetics of Northern Gothic, in which abstract pattern and natural forms are fused into a unity of the subjective and objective, the experiential and the ideal. This Northern Gothic is not a rejection of the modern and the Modernist, but its logical synthetic conclusion, the product of a continuous reading and redefinition of the central terms from which Hulme began.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available