This study revolves around the career of Kobayashi Hideo (1902–1983), one of the seminal figures in the history of modern Japanese literary criticism, whose interpretive vision was forged amidst the cultural and ideological crises that dominated intellectual discourse between the 1920s and the 1940s.Kobayashi sought in criticism a vehicle through which to rhetorically restore to the artistic work an aura of concreteness that precluded interpretation and instead inspired awe, to somehow recover a literary experience unmediated by intellectual machinations. In adhering firmly to this worldview for the duration of World War II, Kobayashi came to assume a complex stance toward the wartime regime. Although his interweaving of aesthetics and ideology exhibited elements of both resistance and complicity, his critical ethos served ultimately to undergird his wartime fascist stance by encouraging acquiescence to authority, championing patriotism, and calling for more vigorous thought control.Treating Kobayashi’s influential works and the historical context in which they are rooted, James Dorsey traces the emergence of a modern critical consciousness in conversation with such concerns as the nature of materiality in capitalist culture, the relationship of narrative to subjectivity, and the nostalgia for beauty in a time of war.
The subject of renewed interest among literary and cultural scholars, Vernon Lee wrote more than forty books, in a broad range of genres, including fiction, history, aesthetics, and travel literature. Early on, Lee established her reputation as a public critic whose unconventional viewpoints stood out among those of her contemporaries.
To feminist and cultural critics, she is a fascinating model of the independent female intellectual who, as Desmond MacCarthy once put it, provides a rare combination of intellectual curiosity and imaginative sensibility.
A startlingly original critical study, Vernon Lee adds new dimensions to the legacy of this woman of letters whose career spans the transition from the late Victorian to the modernist period. Zorn draws on archival materials to discuss Lee’s work in terms of British aestheticism and in the context of the Western European history of ideas.
Zorn contends that Lee’s fiction and nonfiction represent a literary position that bridges and surpasses both the Victorian sage and the modernist aesthetic critic.
Through Professor Zorn’s approach, which combines theoretical framings of texts in terms of recent feminist and cultural criticism with passages of close reading, Vernon Lee emerges as an influential figure in late-nineteenth-century British and continental European thinking on history, art, culture, and gender.
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