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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The period 1880‒1920 witnessed the emergence of a socialist movement and the Labour Party in Britain, anarchist attacks, and a re-energized women’s suffrage campaign: political formations shaped the twentieth-century British state. In the 1880s, literature and the arts were knitted into the texture of such politics, but by 1920 it was common for left-wing thinkers of the Fabian Society to distance themselves from the arty utopianism of the fin de siècle. Writers including Edward Carpenter, William Morris, and Olive Schreiner show how late nineteenth-century literature was a means to explore possible alternative futures for sexual relations, for social equality, and for the individual’s rejection of capitalist modernity. The chapter traces relations between anti-capitalist politics and literary experiment in the era of mass culture. It suggests Henry James’s Princess Casamassima and Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent foreshadow the realignment of politics and aesthetics in the early twentieth century.

Keywords: radicalism, socialism, anarchism, new life, Fabian Society, Stepniak, Bedford Park, Olive Schreiner, Henry James, Joseph Conrad

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