Fruit, Water, Ice, Glass, Gold: Images of Human Beauty in Post-1980 Anglophone Fiction

Hart, Carina (2012) Fruit, Water, Ice, Glass, Gold: Images of Human Beauty in Post-1980 Anglophone Fiction. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

The 1960s and 1970s witnessed a critique of the concept of beauty
in art and philosophy (McGann 190), with Christopher Janaway
characterising aesthetics as the Cinderella of philosophy who “doesn’t
make it to the ball” (vii). However, since around 1980 an increasing
number of artistic and critical voices have begun to speak about beauty
once again.
Anglophone novels of this period, from 1980 to 2012, show a
particular engagement with the subject through their exploration of human
beauty. By figuring the beauty of characters in metaphorical terms, they
demonstrate that conceptions of human beauty as either a sinful, fleshly
temptation or an abstract ideal can be transformed. Five specific metaphors
through which this is achieved form the subject of analysis for this thesis:
fruit, water, ice, glass and gold. Ten post-1980 novels are examined in their
use of these metaphors to reformulate human beauty.
! The preoccupation with the transformation and rewriting of beauty
will be shown to indicate a distinct trend in post-1980 fiction, one which
enacts a notable move away from fiction regarded as postmodernist. It will
be demonstrated that the present concern with beauty emerges from the
emphasis on surfaces in postmodernist fiction (Waugh, Practising
Postmodernism 4), but that contemporary novels are characterised by a
reconstructive and transformative approach which is less evident in earlier
fiction.
This transformative approach is directed to the division of beauty
into concrete and abstract by philosophers such as Plato, Augustine, Kant
and Adorno. In post-1980 fiction and the critical work of Wendy Steiner,
Denis Donoghue, James Kirwan and others, this dichotomy is profoundly
challenged. This thesis engages with these aesthetic philosophies in close
readings of the ten chosen novels, to expound how the relationship between
concrete and abstract human beauty is represented and rewritten in
post-1980 fiction.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 16 May 2013 11:53
Last Modified: 16 May 2013 11:53
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/42414
DOI:

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