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Individualism, Decadence and Globalization: On the Relationship of Part to Whole, 1859-1920 (Language, Discourse, Society) [Hardcover]

Regenia Gagnier

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Book Description

May 11, 2010 0230247431 978-0230247437

Beginning with a widespread definition of Decadence as when individual parts flourish at the expense of the whole, Regenia Gagnier - a leading cultural historian of late nineteenth-century Britain - shows the full range of meanings of individualism at the height of its promise. From Darwin and Mill to the Fin de Siècle and beyond, Gagnier establishes the individual in relation to its theoretical and practical contexts: the couple and parent/child dyad; the workshop and community; the nation and state; cosmopolis and world-citizenship. She concludes that the relation of individual to social or part to whole is better understood in terms of dynamic functions than fixed identities.

Some highlights in this richly detailed study include: the evolutionary and developmental sciences of the individual; Herbert Spencer and the Individualists; Matthew Arnold and the Culturalists; the New Women, Female Aesthetes, and Socialist Individualists; poetry and the Philosophy of the Will; Gypsy Lorists and Cultural Philanthropy; Nietzsche’s Good Europeans and Late Victorian Cosmopolitans; the doctrine of mystical substitution of the one for the many. No one gives a fuller picture of the individual in modernity.

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Editorial Reviews


'...knowledgeable and wide-ranging...' - Cahiers victoriens et edouardiens

About the Author

REGENIA GAGNIER has held chairs at Stanford University, USA, and the University of Exeter, UK, where she is currently Professor of English and Director of Exeter Interdisciplinary Institute. She has also taught at Berkeley and Oxford. Her previous books include Idylls of the Marketplace: Oscar Wilde and the Victorian Public, Subjectivities: A History of Self-Representation in Britain 1832-1920 and The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society. She is also Editor in Chief of Literature Compass and Director of its Global Circulation Project and President of the British Association for Victorian Studies.

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