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Strange Sisters

Literature and Aesthetics in the Nineteenth Century


Francesca Orestano and Francesca Frigerio

This collection of essays stems from the conference ‘Nineteenth-Century Literature and Aesthetics’, which was held at the University of Milan in 2006 and organised by the editors of this volume. The interface between word and image covered in these essays embraces the fields of literature, architecture, painting, photography, music and art criticism. The authors stress the role of aesthetics in a number of contexts ranging from the early 1830s to the fin de siècle and beyond, as far as the last influences of Victorian taste on the early years of the twentieth century.
During the nineteenth century the ancient interaction between literature and aesthetics was challenged and criticised by Martineau, Rossetti, Ruskin, Pater, Wilde, Beardsley, Cameron and Carroll, among others: their awareness of the complexity of visual perception problematised the existing categories of realism, artistic conventions, discourse of description, translation and representation.
The essays cover almost a century of debate between literature and aesthetics. They focus on the intersection of word and image by emphasising transgressions in art hierarchies, forms and languages, which restyle existing categories and project them into new aesthetic dimensions beyond the conventional idea of the sister arts.
Contents: Francesca Orestano: Introduction – Luisa Calè: Belinda and Exhibition Culture: Fiction, Pictures and Imaginary Ekphrasis – Maria Luisa Roli: A Voyage by Balloon: Stifter’s Condor – Lucy Bending: ‘Fishing in a Strange Element’: Harriet Martineau and the Visible World – J.B. Bullen: Mid-Nineteenth-Century British Primitivism and the Continent of Europe – Paola Spinozzi: Journeying through Translation: Dante among the Victorians, Dante Gabriel Rossetti in Medieval Italy – Francesca Orestano: Across the Picturesque: Ruskin’s Argument with the Strange Sisters – Alberta Gnugnoli: Famous Men and Fair Ladies: Genius, Creativity and Beauty in the Portraits of Julia Margaret Cameron – Francesca Frigerio: Out of Focus: A Portrait of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll – Graham Smith: Michelangelo’s Duke of Urbino in Literature, Travel-Writing and Photography of the Nineteenth Century – Marialuisa Bignami: Sir Joshua and the Historian: Portraits in George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda – Hilary Fraser: Through the Looking-Glass: Looking like a Woman in the Nineteenth Century – Elisa Bizzotto: Blurring the Confines of Art and Gender: Aubrey Beardsley’s Legend of Venus and Tannhäuser, ‘The Fragment of a Story’ – Linda Goddard: Gauguin’s Guidebooks: Noa Noa in the Context of Nineteenth-Century Travel-Writing – Alexandra Harris: The Antimacassar Restored: Victorian Taste in the Early Twentieth Century.