19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, No 12 (2011)

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‘The subjective inside us can turn into the objective outside’: Vernon Lee’s Psychological Aesthetics

Carolyn Burdett


This essay argues that Vernon Lee’s psychological aesthetics importantly illuminate a transition between Victorian and Modernist ideas about the experience of beauty. It traces Lee’s discovery and adoption of the term ‘empathy’ as the key mechanism of aesthetic feeling, and her gradual and never quite certain decision that it must be understood as primarily a mental rather than a physical process. 

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