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Chapter 12 - The Conservative and Patriotic 1890s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2023

Dustin Friedman
Affiliation:
American University, Washington DC
Kristin Mahoney
Affiliation:
Michigan State University
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Summary

This chapter explores the ways in which conservative politics and patriotic sentiment circulated in the literary culture of the 1890s, tracing the reactionary and jingoistic positions of a range of writers. From the counter-decadence of Marie Corelli and Hugh E. M. Stutfield, to the conservative critiques of modernity by Arthur Machen and Lionel Johnson, the chapter demonstrates how literary radicalism and political reactionaryism coexisted in the 1890s. It explores debates around patriotism, looking at the passionate support for imperialism in Michael Field, Algernon Charles Swinburne and John Davidson, alongside George Gissing’s conservative critique of the emerging jingoism of the period, and argues that responses to the Second Anglo-Boer War should be placed front and center in literary histories of the 1890s to ensure attention is paid to the conservatism that became ever more pervasive after the Wilde trials. It notes the variety of conservatisms that circulated in the 1890s and the necessity for literary critics to read these responses with care to better understand the complex cultural politics of the decade.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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