Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 19 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The late nineteenth-century Aesthetic movement challenged many aspects of Victorian literature and culture. This chapter explores how the emphasis on pleasure within Aestheticism was central to that challenge. The pursuit of ‘art for art’s sake’ might seem to imply a step away from the politics of the day, but the hedonism of the movement, the chapter suggests, subverted dominant arguments about culture and society in an age of democratization. The works of Oscar Wilde and Walter Pater provide a means to examine a wider aesthetic counter-culture that resisted Matthew Arnold’s arguments for critical consensus, undermined the calculated happiness of Utilitarian political economy, and broke open new spaces for the appreciation and expression of beauty.

Keywords: Aestheticism, pleasure, Aesthetic movement, ethics, Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, hedonism, Hellenism, utilitarian, democracy

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.