Collections > UNC Chapel Hill Undergraduate Honors Theses Collection > A New Hedonism, A New Spirituality: The Mystical Aesthetics in Late Victorian Letters
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This investigation will begin by delineating the basic concepts that Pater establishes in his early work and that become the starting point for each of these writers. The section on Pater will draw special attention to his focus on Hellenic and Renaissance art and how they bring into focus the ideas that structure his aesthetics. Using his novel Marius the Epicurean as an example of these theories in action, the chapter will demonstrate how his approach towards aesthetics, utilizing the concept of Heiterkeit, blitheness, manages to locate the importance of the spiritual in the blending of heterogeneous—some might say contradictory—systems of thought. The section devoted to Oscar Wilde will challenge the idea that his work is simply a refutation of Pater’s thought and show the trajectory of his spiritual aesthetics, culminating in his identification with the image of Christ. Finally, Vernon Lee’s critical works, an essay and several philosophical dialogues, will outline the ways in which her sociopolitical ideals are united with her aesthetic and spiritual posture. This study aims to complicate these writers’ relationship to spirituality and bring to greater attention to which the extent their critical perspectives are structured by spiritual thinking.