The Shape of Fear

The Shape of Fear

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During the last decades of the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin, Thomas Henry Huxley, Walter Pater and others changed the nature of thought concerning the human body and the physical environment that had shaped it. In response, the 1890s saw the publication of a series of remarkable literary works that had their genesis in the intense scientific and aesthetic activity of those preceding decades -- texts that emphasized themes of degeneration and were themselves stylistically decompositive, with language both a surrogate for physical deformity and a source of anxiety. Susan J. Navarette examines the ways in which scientific and cultural concerns of late nineteenth-century England are coded in the horror literature of the period. By contextualizing the structural, stylistic, and thematic systems developed by writers seeking to reenact textually the entropic forces they perceived in the natural world, Navarette reconstructs the late Victorian mentalitAc. She analyzes aesthetic responses to trends in contemporary science and explores horror writers' use of scientific methodologies to support their perception that a long-awaited period of cultural decline had begun. In her analysis of the classics Turn of the Screw and Heart of Darkness, Navarette shows how James and Conrad made artistic use of earlier qscientificq readings of the body. She also considers works by lesser-known authors Walter de la Mare, Vernon Lee, and Arthur Machen, who produced fin de siAucle stories that took the form of qhybrid literary monstrosities.q To underscore the fascination with bodily decay and deformation that these writers explored, The Shape of Fear is enhanced with prints and line drawings by Victor Hugo, James Ensor, and other artists of the day. This elegantly written book formulates a new canon of late Victorian fiction that will intrigue scholars of literature and cultural history.Darwin, for example, had suggested in On the Origin of Species that aquot;the embryo comes to be left as a sort of picture, ... tribeaquot; redacted in a 1908 essay on ornament and crime by the Austrian architect Adolf Loos, who does away with annoyinganbsp;...

Title:The Shape of Fear
Author:Susan Jennifer Navarette
Publisher:University Press of Kentucky - 2015-02-05


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