Legacies: Socialism, Aesthetics, and the Modernist Generation

Ruth Livesey

in Socialism, Sex, and the Culture of Aestheticism in Britain, 1880-1914

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780197263983
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734731 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Legacies: Socialism, Aesthetics, and the Modernist Generation

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This chapter examines the afterlife of 1880s socialism in the early modernist generation. It focuses upon Virginia Woolf and Roger Fry and examines their negotiations with the productive, engaged aesthetics of those Bloomsbury socialists before the Bloomsbury Group. Both Woolf and Fry had significant relations with writers examined in earlier chapters of this work. Woolf's writings concerning the Women's Co-operative Guild reflect her rejection of the socially engaged and productive aesthetics of that generation in favour of a radical statement of aesthetic autonomy and the individualism of the artist. Meanwhile, Roger Fry's aesthetics strained between a belief in a democracy of aesthetic responsiveness and a conscious attempt to rewrite the aesthetic legacy of Ruskin and Morris. In the debacle that surrounded Wyndham Lewis's secession from Fry's collective Omega Workshops, however, Lewis himself sexed Fry's aesthetics as effeminate traces of the fin de siècle.

Keywords: early modernism; Bloomsbury Group; Bloomsbury socialists; Virginia Woolf; Roger Fry; aesthetic autonomy; Wyndham Lewis

Chapter.  15361 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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