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Quaint, ExquisiteVictorian Aesthetics and the Idea of Japan$
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Grace E. Lavery

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691183626

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691183626.001.0001

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Analytic of the Exquisite

Analytic of the Exquisite

(p.1) Introduction Analytic of the Exquisite
Quaint, Exquisite

Grace E. Lavery

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter presents a picture of the Victorian perspective of Japan, the so-called “Other Empire.” Accordingly, it highlights Japan as a precondition for the exquisite aesthetic structure implicit in Immanuel Kant's description of aesthetic judgment. In addition, the chapter shows how Japan is an Other Empire radically threatening the cultural chauvinism of late-Victorian Britain and an eccentric modernity populated by eccentric men. Therefore, it is a model for the subcultural socialities of British aestheticism and a material source of influential writers and artists shaping the emerging aesthetic discourses, usually away from the interests of the white avant-gardes whose achievements are all-too-frequently centered in cultural histories of the period. Japan is an influence, direct and indirect, on the post-structuralist historiographies of theory, and therefore embedded, invisibly, in many of the most cherished categories of cultural analysis.

Keywords:   Japan, Victorian Britain, modernity, cultural analysis, Immanuel Kant, aesthetic judgment, cultural histories, British aestheticism

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