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Johns Hopkins University Press
ELH: English Literary History
Original Item ID
This essay examines the so-called “turn to beauty” in British fiction since the 1990s as a response to the political and social consequences of Thatcherism. Focusing primarily on four texts—Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up! (1994), Julian Barnes’s England, England, (1998), Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty (2004), and Zadie Smith’s On Beauty (2005)—this essay argues that conceptions of beauty and beastliness delineate possible boundaries to the neoliberalism with which Thatcherism is associated. Two distinct phases of the beauty/beastliness rhetoric are identified: an ironized utopianism in the 1990s; an ambivalent embrace of global humanism in the 2000s.
Su, John J., "Beauty and the Beastly Prime Minister" (2014). English Faculty Research and Publications. 277.