Chapter 3. The Rise of Mass Culture and the Specter of Decline, 1873–1901

  1. James Eli Adams

Published Online: 6 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444305944.ch3

A History of Victorian Literature

A History of Victorian Literature

How to Cite

Adams, J. E. (2009) The Rise of Mass Culture and the Specter of Decline, 1873–1901, in A History of Victorian Literature, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444305944.ch3

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 6 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 20 MAR 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780631220824

Online ISBN: 9781444305944



  • mass culture and decline, 1873–1901 - growing readership and mass-circulation daily newspapers;
  • Science, materialism, and value;
  • twin impacts of Darwin and materialism - science an inescapable feature of contemporary reflection on value;
  • “Science and Culture” - mounting formidable argument, not only in its concessions to claims of culture;
  • twilight of Poetic Titans;
  • aesthetic movement - phenomena linked by celebration of beauty in everyday life;
  • aesthetic poetry;
  • power of life-writing as mode of critical reflection - neglected confluences between Mill's thought and Pater's;
  • morality and the novel and new woman in fiction;
  • “Decadence” - fictions of decline and poetry after Wilde


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Science, Materialism, and Value

  • Twilight of the Poetic Titans

  • The Decline of the Marriage Plot

  • The Aesthetic Movement

  • Aesthetic Poetry

  • Life-Writing

  • Morality and the Novel

  • Romance

  • Regionalism

  • The Arrival of Kipling

  • Fiction and the Forms of Belief

  • Sex, Science, and Danger

  • Fictions of the Artist

  • Decadence

  • Drama in the 1880s

  • The New Woman in Fiction

  • Decadent Form

  • The Poetry of London

  • Yeats

  • The Scandal of Wilde

  • Poetry After Wilde

  • Fictions of Decline

  • Conrad