The Aesthetic Movement
The Aesthetic movement was one of the many reactions of intellectuals against the Victorian puritanism. In this period, there is a fracture between the Artist and the Society. In fact, the artist does not recognize himself in the world around him because that world is conventional and mediocre. So, He turns to a world that is opposed to reality, a world of refined, unusual and precious beauty.
The Aesthetic Movement developed in England at the end of 19th century; French 19th century poets, especially the Théophile Gautier, influenced the British aestheticism.
The aesthetic movement reflects the reaction of the artist against a conventional and mediocre society. So the artist redefines the true role of art that is exemplified in the slogan “Art for Art’s sake”. This Slogan express the idea of beauty in itself, and an equilibrium of interior and exterior beauty.
Another reaction against the monotony and vulgarity of middle class life is the behavior as “Bohémien” of the writers, that is to say, an existence against conventions and rules.
The father of the Aesthetic movement is considered Walter Pater. He was a philosopher and an intellectual, but he wrote an important novel, that is considered the first aesthetic novel. In fact this novel is also a kind of manifesto of the movement, in which are listed the principles of the movement.
The novel is Marius the Epicurean. When it was released, it created so much scandal, because the main character, Marius, was an epicurean, and so he lives the pleasure of life, not only in material field, but also in intellectual field. So he lives without limits.
In this novel we can found the most important principle of aesthetic movement: “Art for art’s sake” So this novel is opposed to the Victorian Puritanism. The religion is refused and art becomes the only way to stop the time and to live every experience with emotional intensity.
So the consequences of the Aesthetic movement in the artistic and human field are:
• Excessive attention to the “self”, an attention to the subjective experience over standard codes of behavior.
• Hedonistic and sensual attitude.
• Detachment from the mass society, that is to say the perversity of arguments.
• Evocative use of language.