N.Yu. Bartosh
DOI: 10.17212/2075-0862-2016-4.2-132-145

The main scope of this study is the metamorphosis of the set of objects into the set of symbols in fine arts and literature of Art Nouveau. This article overviews the use of artifacts in the literature of Art Nouveau, in particular, in critical essays and literary works by Oscar Wilde. The study intends to elucidate why the process of “sacralization” of beauty expressed in specific artifacts is reflected in the literature of Art Nouveau in the form of “aesthetic game.” The main objectives of this study are: to provide a brief background behind the emergence of “neomythological” aspirations in the culture of Art Nouveau, to show how the pursuit of aestheticizing life and turning it into art leads to destruction of traditional boundaries of the aesthetic space, since canons and rules of high creative art are being transferred to everyday objects, to identify the main principles of the “aesthetic game” in the literary texts of Art Nouveau, and to explain how the “destruction” of the artifact, that is, the transition from describing a real thing to the emblem-symbol which expands the semantic boundaries of artistic space, occurs in the literature of Art Nouveau. The article provides a brief overview of the aesthetic movement in England in the context of the general development of European “panaesteticism.” The author shows how the cult of beautiful things constitutes the basis of the worldview of Art Nouveau and results in the desire of writers and artists to endow everyday objects with aesthetic functions. The majority of the writers and artists, striving to rich “aesthetic autocracy,” created the space (of text, canvas, or real room), which was oversaturated with the description of beautiful things. Such space very quickly begins to be perceived as aestheticized banality. Objects of everyday life, perceived as the objects of art overwhelm not only the real space, but also the artistic space. Their ekphrasis becomes an important part of the literary text. The literature of Art Nouveau quickly came to exhaustion of the expressive capacities of such an ekphrasis which was based on the external quality of things. The example of J.-K. Huysmans can be a good illustration of this point. Oscar Wilde was one of the few writers of Art Nouveau who continued to provoke a continuous interest on the part of the following generations. Considering himself to be a disciple of Huysmans, Oscar Wilde also gave great importance to describing things, but at the same time he insisted on the fundamental importance of the symbolic (secret, profound) meaning, inherent in things. This is why the ekphrasis of Oscar Wilde does not lose its literary relevance, since in addition to aesthetic autocracy it is saturated with the interplay of various meanings of the thing, extending and deepening the artistic space of the text.