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11 - Literary autonomy: the growth of a modern concept

from III - Critical movements and patterns of influence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2013

M. A. R. Habib
Affiliation:
Rutgers University, New Jersey
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Summary

The evolution and ideology of aesthetic autonomy through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries can be associated with religious, social and philosophical developments. With varying interests and emphases, writers namely Friedrich Schiller, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Edgar Allan Poe, Matthew Arnold, Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, Charles Algernon Swinburne, Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde derive from Immanuel Kant's philosophy the concept of organic form, of aesthetic disinterestedness, of aesthetic education, of art as subversive of instrumental knowledge, as independent from conventions of taste and as resistant to institutional and political coercion. In France, Kant's, Schiller's, Friedrich Schelling's, the Schlegels' and von Humboldt's writings on the aesthetic had been popularized by Germaine de Staël's immensely successful De l'Allemagne. Kant's subjective universality of taste, Schiller's beautiful appearance, Baudelaire's intimate correspondences, Mallarmé's supreme language, Wilde's immoral art, all seem to testify that the idea of literary autonomy can be maintained only as a contradiction.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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