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    ‘Dolls in Agony’: Vernon Lee in southern Spain

    Barrera-Medrano, Leire (2016) ‘Dolls in Agony’: Vernon Lee in southern Spain. Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens (83), ISSN 0220-5610.

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    When Vernon Lee visited Southern Spain in 1889, she found the Catholic practices of the country extremely unsettling. The overloaded decoration of the churches and the preference for representations of bleeding Christs were, in Lee’s eyes, ‘obscene’ and ‘excessive’. Above all, the Spanish madonnas, always represented ‘in agony’, distressed her. Lee’s open repulsion to the Catholic country and especially to the Spanish representations of the Virgin Mary would prompt her to write ‘The Virgin of the Seven Daggers’, the most consciously Decadent of all her works: a sacrilegious tale in which Catholic and Moorish Spain are intertwined to explore notions of spiritual and moral perversity. This essay thus examines the relatively unnoticed visit that Lee made to Southern Spain and suggests that, besides its disturbing character, the grotesque Spanish Catholicism that Lee found in 1889 resulted in fruitful productivity: it contributed to shape Lee’s pacifist aesthetic conscience and awakened her imagination.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Lee (Vernon), Spain, Catholicism, Decadence, supernatural, Marian imagery, cosmopolitanism, pacifism, travel literature
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2017 08:57
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:42


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