By Edited by Scott McCracken Edited by Sally Ledger
This ebook considers the ways that present conflicts of 'race', type, and gender have their roots within the Nineties.
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Extra info for Cultural Politics at the Fin de Siècle
A socialist-feminist novel from 1888, Jane Hume Clapperton's Margaret Dunmore; or, A Socialist Home, throws an interesting light on feminism's troubled relationship with the nascent socialisms of the late nineteenth century. Set two years into the future the novel takes the form of a Utopia, elaborating a socialist-feminist community set up by the unmarried Margaret Dunmore. The aim of Margaret Dunmore's ' socialist home' is to provide ' a Provincial Communistic Group ladies and gentlemen who intend to live, rather than preach, Socialism; and who hope to rear children of a purely Socialistic type'.
Whilst H. M. Hyndman was utterly dismissive of feminism and sexual politics, even the more sympathetic marxists and socialists such as Frederic Engels and Edward Carpenter did not ultimately challenge the sexual division of labour. 3 5 In his Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Engels argued that ' The predominance of the man in marriage is simply a consequence of his economic predominance and will vanish with it automatically. ' 36 But Engels failed to offer an analysis of domestic labour, regarding it simply as a part of personal life, irrelevant to women's insertion into waged labour.
Marie Corelli's best-selling novel of 1895, The Sorrows of Satan, presents the New Woman as a dangerously voluptuous sexual libertine: this is the species of New Woman most commonly associated with Wildean decadence. ' She has an enormous sexual appetite which terrifies and disgusts the man she marries, and in her suicide note she blames the New Woman fiction and decadence for her own moral corruption. Sybil is sexually decadent and vampire-like, and the vampire could be another fictional version of the New Woman.