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The Edinburgh Companion to Fin-de-Siècle Literature, Culture and the Arts

Edited by Josephine M. Guy

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Explores the significance of the British fin de siècle in Scotland and Ireland, as well as some regional cities in England

The late nineteenth-century fin de siècle has proved an enduringly fascinating moment in literary and cultural history. It is associated with the emergence of intriguing figures—such as the 'new woman' and 'uranian'; with contradictory impulses—of decadence and decay on the one hand, and of experiment and renewal, on the other; as well as with unprecedented intercultural exchange, especially between Britain and France. The 22 newly-commissioned essays collected here re-examine some of the key concepts taken to define the fin de siècle, while also introducing hitherto overlooked cultural phenomena into the frame, such as the importance of humanitarianism. The impact of recent research in material culture is explored, particularly how the history of the book and the history of performance culture is changing our understanding of this period. A wide range of cultural activities is discussed—from participation in avant-garde theatre to interior decoration and from the writing of poetry to political and religious activism. Together, the essays provide new scholarly insights into British fin de siècle and enrich our understanding of this complex period, while paying particular attention to the importance of regionalism.

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Introduction, Josephine M. Guy
Part I: Concepts
1. Decadence and Institutions of Modernism in the American Literary Field of the 1910s, Kirsten MacLeod
2. The Matter of Form: Fin-de-Siècle Illustrated Poetry and the Periodical Press, Alison Chapman
3. Curious Intricacies: Versions of City Writing at the Fin de Siècle, Nick Freeman
4. Gothic Aesthetics, Andrew Smith
5. Catholicism and the Fin de Siècle, Miriam Elizabeth Burstein
6. Secularism and Secularisation at the Fin de Siècle, Sara Lyons
7. The Claims of Kinship: Humanitarian Ideals at the Century's End, John Stokes
8. Information in the 1890s: Technological, Journalistic, Imperial, Occult, Richard Menke
Part II: Places
9. Fin-de-Siècle Scotland, Caroline McCracken-Flesher
10. The Irish Fin de Siècle, Anne Markey
11. Providing an Ideal Home: Paternalism and Persuasion at Bournville 1895-1914, Margaret Ponsonby
12. Theatre in the Provinces at the Fin de Siècle: Beyond Outcast London, Jo Robinson
13. 'Truth About Russia': Russia in Britain at the Fin de Siècle, Anna Vaninskaya
14. Aestheticism and Italy: A New Sense of Place, Stefano Evangelista
Part III: Identities: Female
15. The 1890s Woman: New or Decadent?, Jad Adams
16. When a Best-Selling Author and a West End Actress Made a Spiritualist Performance: Collaboration, Networks and Theatre at the Fin de Siècle, Catherine Hindson
17. Intergenerational Collaboration and Conflict: Women's Periodicals at the Fin de Siècle, Alexis Easley
18. Lily Montague and Liberal Judaism, Richa Dwor
19. American Nervousness: Motherhood and the 'Mental Activity of Women' in the Era of Sexual Anarchy, Emily Coit
Part IV: Identities: Male
20. German and British Sexual Sciences Across Disciplines at the Fin de Siècle: 'Homosexuals', Inverts and 'Uranians', Ina Linge
21. The Anglo-African Adventure Novel in the 1890s, Gerald Monsman
22. The Fin-de-Siecle Detective: But My Job don't End There, Caroline Reitz.

About the Author

Josephine M. Guy is Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Nottingham. She has published widely on Victorian literature and culture, especially on Oscar Wilde, and is a member of the editorial team of the Oxford English Texts Edition of the Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. She has also published on text-editing and theory, on the history of English as a discipline of knowledge and, more recently, on the scientific study of literature, and the use of psycholinguistic methodologies to investigate literariness.


An exciting and adventurous collection which sets out to challenge established interpretations of this complex period.

- Valerie Sanders, University of Hull

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