Back CoverGeneral Editor: Stan SmithProfessor of English, University of DundeeThis important series takes full account of contemporary literary theory, providing collections of key modern readings of major authors, genres and critical approaches. Prefaced by a wide-ranging editorial introduction setting the readings in context and exploring the issues they raise, individual volumes in the series offer the student authoritative and stimulating guides to the best theoretically-informed critical work on subjects from Chaucer to the present.The approaching end of the twentieth century, accompanied as it is by 'endisms' of various kinds - the end of history, the collapse of grand narratives - has led to a renewed critical interest in the sense of ending that characterised the turn of the last century - labelled the fin de siecle. Long associated with decadence and with the literary movements of aestheticism and symbolism, the period 1880-1914 has been reconstructed in the light of late twentieth-century critical perspectives and by current political issues of gender, class, race and ethnicity.The essays in this volume represent the new interdisciplinary cultural history of the fin de siecle.
They explore the full range of contemporary critical debate and are organised around three central themes: gender and sexuality, decadence and degeneration, and imperialism. The recent preoccupation with nineteenth-century popular culture and, in particular, genre fiction is explored as is the work of long neglected women writers. The late flowering of the nineteenth-century novel and the first stirrings of modernism, represented in the work of Hardy and Conrad, are reconsidered within the cultural context of the age.Lyn Pykett's selection of essays and extracts, together with the comprehensive introductory essay, form a valuable introduction to fin de siecle cultural studies and provide a commentary on important aspects of current critical debate and the place of culture in society. Reading Fin de Siecle Fictions will be welcome reading for students of literature, cultural and gender studies.