This volume marks the first sustained study to interrogate how and why issues of sexuality, desire, and economic processes intersect in the literature and culture of the Victorian fin de siècle. At the end of the nineteenth-century, the move towards new models of economic thought marked the transition from a marketplace centred around the fulfilment of ‘needs’ to one ministering to anything that might, potentially, be desired. This collection considers how the literature of the period meditates on the interaction between economy and desire, doing so with particular reference to the themes of fetishism, homoeroticism, the literary marketplace, social hierarchy, and consumer culture. Drawing on theoretical and conceptual approaches including queer theory, feminist theory, and gift theory, contributors offer original analyses of work by canonical and lesser-known writers, including Oscar Wilde, A.E. Housman, Baron Corvo, Vernon Lee, Michael Field, and Lucas Malet. The collection builds on recent critical developments in fin-de-siècle literature (including major interventions in the areas of Decadence, sexuality, and gender studies) and asks, for instance, how did late nineteenth-century writing schematise the libidinal and somatic dimensions of economic exchange? How might we define the relationship between eroticism and the formal economies of literary production/performance? And what relation exists between advertising/consumer culture and (dissident) sexuality in fin-de-siecle literary discourses? This book marks an important contribution to 19th-Century and Victorian literary studies, and enhances the field of fin-de-siècle studies more generally.
Introduction Jane Ford, Kim Edwards Keates, and Patricia Pulham Part I: Articulating Desire 1. Always Leave Them Wanting More: Oscar Wilde’s Salome and the Failed Circulations of Desire Ruth Robbins 2. A.E. Housman’s Ballad Economies Veronica Alfano 3. Perfume Clouds: Olfaction, Memory, and Desire in Arthur Symons’s London Nights (1895) Jane Desmarais Part II: Human Currencies 4. Urban Economies and the Dead-Woman Muse in the Poetry of Amy Levy and Djuna Barnes Sarah Parker 5. Greek Gift and "Given Being": The Libidinal Economies of Vernon Lee’s Supernatural Tales Jane Ford 6. The Aesthete, the Banker, and the Saint: Economies of Gift and Desire in Lucas Malet's The Far Horizon (1906) Catherine Delyfer Part III: Queer Performativity 7. Living Parody: Eric, Count Stenbock, and Decadent Performativity Matthew Bradley 8. Camp Aesthetics and Inequality: Baron Corvo’s Toto Stories Kristin Mahoney 9. ‘Our brains struck fire each from each’: Disidentification, Difference, and Desire in the Collaborative Aesthetics of Michael Field Jill R. Ehnenn