Innocence and Rapture: The Erotic Child in Pater, Wilde, by Kevin Ohi

By Kevin Ohi

To understand the important position of the erotic baby in decadent aesthetics is to understand the queer power of literary excitement in aestheticism. Such is Kevin Ohi’s declare in Innocence and Rapture, the place specific readings of Pater, Wilde, James, and Nabokov distinction the erotic baby of aestheticism with the blameless baby of up to date sexual ideology. the security of innocence goals, peculiarly, to defend certainties of which means and identification; at stake is much less the health and wellbeing of any baby than an autonomy unruptured through equivocal origination. The disorientations of which means and id that this day get together panic and punitive enforcement mark for aestheticist writers not anything in need of the rapturous chances of artwork. An attentive interpreting of aestheticist kind can't yet confront its queerness; aestheticism’s rapture, this ebook argues, harbors an unexamined political strength, which calls into query modern conceptions of youth innocence and the ideologies of sexual normalcy that maintain them.

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Extra resources for Innocence and Rapture: The Erotic Child in Pater, Wilde, James, and Nabokov

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The Leonardo essay explicitly presents the equivocal effects of this exchange in terms of the fascination of aesthetic spectacle. The description of the Medusa brings to mind the blank stares of the statue and open-eyed corpse:25 The subject has been treated in various ways; Leonardo alone cuts to its centre; he alone realises it as the head of a corpse, exercising its powers through all the circumstances of death. What may be called the fascination of corruption penetrates in every touch its exquisitely finished beauty.

The disjunction between matter and form that results from romantic inwardness seems metaleptically to become apparent even in classical art; this shadow of the later period curiously makes the retrospective glance of Renaissance, Death, and Rapture in Pater 41 Hegel’s historical method manifest within the earlier period, figuring within it the later effort of retrospective recovery (and dooming that effort from the outset). “The blessed gods,” writes Hegel, “mourn as it were over their blessedness or their bodily form.

Fascination as a form of self-fashioning is explicitly reflected on by the text as a logic of its narration. That Gaston—like Marius—challenges the form of the novel, blending it with historical or art criticism, grows, in part, from absorption, not only Gaston’s preeminent character trait but also the text’s own narrative mode, which often neglects its hero for more generalized views of his era. Specular fascination makes Gaston all but interchangeable with his surroundings: I have dwelt thus at length on what was visible in Paris just then, on the mere historic scene there, forgetful it might seem of the company of Gaston, but only because I do suppose him thoughtfully looking on with us, all the while, as essentially a creature of the eye, even more likely than others to be shaped by the things he sees.

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