March: Symbolist and Aestheticism movements: Ch. 19 in our Literary Criticism Text

Focusing on authors Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), Walter Pater (1839 – 1894), and Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900), running countercurrent in theory to the Realist/Naturalist movements we studied in Feb, Symbolists and Aestheticists address “an alternative set of concerns: with language, with poetic form, with evocation of mental states and ideal worlds, and the most intimate recesses of human subjectivity.” Baudelaire’s works were censored, Wilde was imprisoned for his sexuality.

Pater’s criticism “belongs to an era of what is called “decadence,” marked by a resigned withdrawal from social and political concerns, disillusionment with the consolations available in religion, and a rejection of the philistine and mechanical world which was the legacy of mainstream bourgeois thought and practice, in favor of an exaltation of art and of experience. Needless to say, the views of Pater, Wilde, and other aesthetes and impressionists brought them into conflict not only with the builders of systems and the defenders of religion or morality, but also with those Victorian writers who saw art and literature as having a high moral purpose and civilizing function.”

Some moved onwards and upwards in their rebellion to a position of ‘Art for Art’s Sake.’

“The artist is the creator of beautiful things,”

With this salvo, “Already, we are worlds away from the notion of art as imitation, art as expressing either reality or ideality, as well as from any purported connection of art with truth or morality. Indeed, Wilde continues, there “is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book” and “No artist has ethical sympathies.” Moreover, no “artist desires to prove anything . . . Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” For Wilde, as for Pater, the prime object of pursuit is beauty, beauty absolutely divorced from all other considerations, moral or practical.”

There’s been interest expressed in the group for discussing how to better write fight scenes, and also better sex scenes.

We’ll spend some time going over both the LitCrit text and talking writing these scenes, and to try to find some ways they tie together perhaps.

I love these youtube videos about how

‘John Wick Changed Action Movies And You Barely Noticed’


‘Movie Violence Done Right’

by critic ‘The NerdWriter’

They have lots of insight for someone working in literature as well.

A good example of a fight scene, one integrated into plot that moves story along, is this one from the book ‘The Princess Bride’, which was on many of the lists of best fight scenes I looked up online. Imagine reading it through for the first time, knowing the characters only from the book, and having them in your imagination… facing the end of their journey. But if you’ve only seen it as a movie, perhaps you are comparing it to the action in the film and get a sort of sluggish feeling from reading through it, compared to how you remember it, in the film? Let’s discuss what you think! Here’s a link to the whole thing:

As for a sex scene, I was going to pick one from Henry Miller, who I am fairly familiar with, but decided to expand my horizons and read some Anais Nin to look for one, which I’ll post soon and add to the study packet for discussion.

If you have a favorite scene you wish to share, feel free to bring it to a meeting, or post a link in the Monarch Writer Discussions. As well, if you have anything you want to mention about a connection to the Literary Criticism theme this month, or anything at all on your mind, really!

Please bring $1 to chip in for hosting.

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