Read an exclusive extract from The Recovery of Beauty, a new collection of essays that explores the role that beauty plays in the arts and literature, and the reasons why much current criticism focuses less on the aesthetic and more on works in their political or social context.
In this extract from the introduction, the editors (David Fuller, Corinne Saunders and Jane Macnaughton) examine how the nineteenth-century aesthetic movement, which idealised beauty in art, was challenged by the two world wars and the need for art to represent acts of violence and moral depravity:
‘”Beauty is difficult” sd/ Mr Beardsley’; so Ezra Pound recalled. Beauty is genuinely difficult – for the artist, for the reader-listener-viewer and for criticism. It has never been otherwise; but some twentieth-century cultural history should indicate why, in 1948, Pound recalled the Aesthetic Movement author-illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. [Read more.]
You can also listen to podcasts from some of the lectures from which this book derives, including talks on beauty in the Middle Ages, the role of beauty in Bloomsbury, and beauty and violence in Shakespeare.