Journal article

Beckford in hell: An episode in the history of secular enchantment

S During

Huntington Library Quarterly | Published : 2007

Abstract

In this essay, Simon During examines William Beckford's radical commitment to enchantment. Flirting with demonism, Beckford broke with conventional morality and absolved himself from participation in public life. He committed himself instead to an aestheticism dedicated both to the pursuit of private delight and to modes of self-undoing. This ethos was most intensely lived out at his coming-of-age party, for which he hired Philippe de Loutherbourg to produce special effects. The essay explores the historical underpinnings of Beckford's commitment to demonic enchantment and gestures at his role as a pioneer of modern culture. © 2007 by the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery.

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