no. 4

Walter Pater's Decadent Fashioning of the Mona Lisa and the Aesthetic Modernity
Author:Xueying Zhou    Time:2022-04-20    Click:

Title: Walter Pater’s Decadent Fashioning of the Mona Lisa and the Aesthetic Modernity

Abstract: Diverging from traditional interpretations, the Decadents fashioned the image of the Mona Lisa in a modern light. Following Gautier’s discovery of Satanism in Mona Lisa’s smile, Pater not only fashioned her as sinister, but also proposed to see her as a representative of Decadents. Wilde, as well as other decadent writers, soon identified with her. This Satanist Complex exemplifies the paganist dissidence of modern aesthetics, bearing witness to the lasting tension with the complacent mindset forwards progress in modern society. In Pater’s passage on the Mona Lisa, the deadlock of content interpretation can be dissolved through the application of Goldmann’s theory of formal homology. The formal dislocation and fragmentation, if traced back to the historical context of the fin de siècle, captures the very flux and thrill of modernity.

Keywords: Mona Lisa, decadence, Walter Pater, aesthetic modernity, homology, fragmentation

Author: Xueying Zhou, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Foreign Languages, Peking University, Beijing, China; Lecturer, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Beijing, China.

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