Google full text of our books:


Fateful Beauty:
Aesthetic Environments, Juvenile Development, and Literature, 1860-1960
Douglas Mao

Paperback | 2010 | $37.50 | £31.95 | ISBN: 9780691146614
328 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 6 halftones.
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400832804 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents
Introduction [HTML] or [PDF] pdf-icon

Google full text of this book:

When Oscar Wilde said he had "seen wallpaper which must lead a boy brought up under its influence to a life of crime," his joke played on an idea that has often been taken quite seriously--both in Wilde's day and in our own. In Fateful Beauty, Douglas Mao recovers the lost intellectual, social, and literary history of the belief that the beauty--or ugliness--of the environment in which one is raised influences or even determines one's fate. Weaving together readings in literature, psychology, biology, philosophy, education, child-rearing advice, and interior design, he shows how this idea abetted a dramatic rise in attention to environment in many discourses and in many practices affecting the lives of the young between the late nineteenth century and the middle of the twentieth. Through original and detailed analyses of Wilde, Walter Pater, James Joyce, Theodore Dreiser, Rebecca West, and W. H. Auden, Mao shows that English-language writing of the period was informed in crucial but previously unrecognized ways by the possibility that beautiful environments might produce better people. He also reveals how these writers shared concerns about environment, evolution, determinism, freedom, and beauty with scientists and social theorists such as Herbert Spencer, Hermann von Helmholtz, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, and W.H.R. Rivers. In so doing, Mao challenges conventional views of the roles of beauty and the aesthetic in art and life during this time.


"[Fateful Beauty] should broaden conceptions about the engineering of ethics in childhood and adolescence. Ideally, it will inspire scholars to look to less obvious sources than the discourse of development for how literature enables (and is enabled by) the construction of the morally treacherous preadult years."--Kirk Curnutt, Journal of American History

"The inexhaustibility of aesthetic environments--inattentions waiting to happen--admittedly is reflected in the exhaustiveness of Fateful Beauty's archive. Mao's local textual analyses are both animating and fastidious."--Michael D. Snediker, Modernism/Modernity

"[A]mong the many rich contributions of the book is the way it makes visible an intellectual genealogy for contemporary panic about childhood sexuality."--Kevin Ohi, Victorian Studies

"Mao's consideration of aesthetics as a significant aspect in literary naturalism allows for a refreshingly unique consideration of Dreiser along with such significant literary figures as James Joyce, Rebecca West, and W. H. Auden. As a result, he has made an important contribution to the field that will surely inspire deeper examinations in the coming years."--Michael Shaw, Studies in American Naturalism


"Douglas Mao's Fateful Beauty is a compelling work of intellectual, social, and literary history that reclaims aestheticism as a revolutionary social as well as artistic creed. This magisterial and groundbreaking work should emerge as a standard one on the period. Mao is a writer who commands attention and respect through his scrupulous research, careful arguments, and eloquence as a cultural and literary critic."--Maria DiBattista, Princeton University

More Endorsements

Table of Contents

Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Ebrary
  • Ebook Library
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • MyiLibrary
  • Dawsonera (UK)

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

     Paperback : $37.50 ISBN: 9780691146614

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

     Paperback  £31.95 ISBN: 9780691146614

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    Prices subject to change without notice

    File created: 7/11/2017

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Exam/Desk Copy
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share 
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    Comparative Literature
    British Literature
    American Literature
    More Choices