Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siecle: Identity and Empire by Arata, Stephen
Cambridge University Press | 12 February 2009
Paperback | 248 pages
It has been widely recognized that British culture in the 1880s and 1890s was marked by a sense of irretrievable decline. Fictions of Loss in the Victorian Fin de Siecle explores the ways in which that perception of loss was cast into narrative, into archetypal stories which sought to account for the culture's troubles and perhaps assuage its anxieties. Stephen Arata pays close attention to fin de siecle representation of three forms of decline - national, biological and aesthetic - and reveals how late Victorian degeneration theory was used to 'explain' such decline. By examining a wide range of writers - from Kipling to Wilde, from Symonds to Conan Doyle and Stoker - Arata shows how the nation's twin obsessions with decadence and imperialism became intertwined in the thought of the period. His account offers new insights for students and scholars of the fin de siecle.