This chapter introduces the concept of the “commodified authentic” and the nostalgic, originary, and aesthetic forms of such marketing, examining the explosive growth of efforts to sell these various forms in Britain at the end of the nineteenth century. The chapter traces the interdisciplinary expressions of the commodified authentic and explores how such a strategy eased for consumers the abrupt transition from the Victorian age to the modern era. The chapter further analyzes the importance of the commodified authentic in the history of modernity and for the development of literary modernism. Tracing some of the central debates in modernist criticism—such Huyssen’s concept of “the great divide,” and the relations between modernism and material culture—the chapter argues that the commodified authentic offers a new way to explore two critical but missing parts of the equation: how commercial ventures in fact deployed and dismantled the vexed relationship between high and low culture, and how literary modernism developed not through a reliance on the great divide or its dismantling but on the uneasy movement between the two impulses, a movement intimately connected to the paradoxical impulse to construct authenticity. The chapter concludes with a detailed summary of the chapters that follow.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.