English literary culture from the death of Thomas Carlyle to the First World War was paradoxical and diverse. In literature it was a time of confusion and a nervous, often frenzied, search for new terms on which the imagination could live. Professor Lester shows that the literary culture of the period moved steadily from a suspicion that the old bases of significant imaginative life were indefensible to a widespread conviction that they had collapsed. His book is not an exercise in literary criticism. Rather, it is an attempt to discover the "geist" of an age, to provide a synthesis for the years 1880-1914. His overriding concern is: “What is the primary force which so unsettles, disperses, and disorients the imaginative experience of this period?”
Originally published in 1968.
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