Edwardians to Georgians

Robert Lawrence Caserio, Jr.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

King Edward VII’s reign is a rebellious era, establishing a libertarian agenda for subsequent decades. ‘What [makes] it a new age’, writes J. B. Priestley of the Edwardian period, ‘is not the… conformity it carried over from Victorian England but… all the attempts… to push forward into a freer atmosphere.’ The forward pushwas enacted by ‘rebels from the middle classes’whoshared ‘a common platform-abelief that… society might be rationally transformed’,1 might lead to a socialist state, women’s liberation from patriarchy, and dissolution of the Empire. Edwardian writers explored that rebellious common platform. Priestley emphasises the common platform’s rational aims. But the era’s writers also liberated passions of the mind and body that did not always cooperate with the goals of rational transformation.Moreover, the writers sought an avant-garde autonomy for art: art’s liberty to develop free of responsibility to reflect the world ‘realistically’; free even of responsibility to immediate political relevance. That search for autonomy links Edwardian literature with Modernism and with the post-Edwardian Georgians (so called after King George V). Pursuing artistic freedom, Edwardians, Modernists and Georgians experiment with literary forms and genres. They experiment with realism, and they experiment with romance, understood as a contrast to realism and as a marker of art’s independence. But that experimentation is not pursued for its own sake exclusively: it refers back, however indirectly, to the Edwardian agenda for change. It is possible to argue that, for Edwardians, Modernists and Georgians, both realism and romance have a libertarian reference; and that for them romance largely promotes empire’s dissolution, in contrast to the Victorians’ version, which often promoted imperialist adventure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages81-99
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781139053884
ISBN (Print)0521820774, 9780521820776
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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