The Pre-Raphaelite Body: Fear and Desire in Painting, Poetry, and Criticism

Hardcover | January 1, 1998

byJ. B. Bullen

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Pre-Raphaelitism was the first avant-garde movement in Britain. It shocked its first audience, and as it modulated into Aestheticism it continued to disturb the British public. In this fresh and original study, Professor Bullen traces the sources of that shock to the representation of thehuman body. By examining the discourses which were developed to denounce or to explain the new art forms he shows that the distorted, maimed, or eroticized body formed the principal focus of anxiety in nineteenth-century criticism. Using a truly interdisciplinary method he relates the painting ofMillais and other early Pre-Raphaelites to fears about cholera and Catholicism; he demonstrates how the body of the sexualized female became an object of obsessive fascination in the painting and poetry of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris; he locates the writing of Swinburne and Prater inthe context of the debate over the `Woman Question', and he shows how the responses to the `Aesthetic' painting of Burne-Jones were conditioned by the sexual psychopathology of mid nineteenth-century mental science.

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Pre-Raphaelitism was the first avant-garde movement in Britain. It shocked its first audience, and as it modulated into Aestheticism it continued to disturb the British public. In this fresh and original study, Professor Bullen traces the sources of that shock to the representation of thehuman body. By examining the discourses which we...

J. B. Bullen is a Professor in the Department of English at University of Reading.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.79 inPublished:January 1, 1998Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198182570

ISBN - 13:9780198182573

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Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsIntroductionPart I. The Ugliness of Early Pre-Raphaelitism1. The Retrogressive Argument2. Archaism3. Pathological DiscoursePart II. Rossetti, the Sexualized Woman, and the Late 1850s1. The Fallen Woman: `Jenny' and Found2. The Passionate Woman: Mary Magdalene, Guenevere, Jehane, and Lucrezia Borgia3. The Sexualized Woman: Rossetti's Bocca BaciataPart III. Rossetti and Male Desire1. Pygmalion and Rossetti's `A Last Confession'2. The Woman in the MirrorPart IV. Burne-Jones and the Aesthetic Body1. The Aesthetic Conspiracy2. The Problems of Femininity and Effeminization3. The Theology of Intensity4. The Androgynous Mind5. The Pathology of Aestheticism6. The Importance of Physiognomy7. The Solitary ViceConclusionBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`an important survey of discourses of Victorian malaise, a case-study in the topography of discontent ... Bullen's elegantly written book reveals a lexicon of discomfort with bodily images which violated conventional modes of visual representation, and which seemed, in their degeneracy,to endanger the nation's well-being. This is an illuminating study, an important source-text, a volume which throws light on cultural history, sexual mores, the formation of discourses on the aesthetic, and the purchase of culturally constructed gender roles on the reception of avant-garde Victorianpaintin and poetry.'Francis O'Gorman, Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, The Review of English Studies, vol 50, no 199, 1999