Doubled and Divided: Women and Art in Vernon Lee's Ghost Stories
Vernon Lee's relationship with the aestheticist movement of the late 19th century was fraught. Her first novel, Miss Brown, was a thinly veiled attack on the misogyny she saw evident in aestheticist circles. Scholars have examined this novel, as well as Lee's later writings on empathy and art, to frame an understanding of Lee's position on aestheticism as well as gender. Building on this work, this thesis considers some lesser known works of Lee's, particularly her early essays on art appreciation. In these, she uses the myth of Faustus and Helena to comment on and, this thesis argues, rewrite the dominant aestheticist myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. Further, Lee's theoretical ideas that are presented in these essays are given full breath in her ghost stories, particularly those in the volume Hauntings. This thesis demonstrates how, through a revision of the dominant mythology, Lee not only rewrites the theory of art appreciation but also the position of women vis a vis art.
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