Decadence and Catholicism

Decadence and Catholicism

by Ellis Hanson, Aubrey Beardsley
     
 

ISBN-10: 0674194462

ISBN-13: 9780674194465

Pub. Date: 02/01/1998

Publisher: Harvard

Romantic writers had found in Christianity a poetic cult of the imagination, an assertion of the spiritual quality of beauty in an age of vulgar materialism. The decadents, a diverse movement of writers, were the climax and exhaustion of this romantic tradition. In their art, they enacted the romance of faith as a protest against the dreariness of modern life.

Overview

Romantic writers had found in Christianity a poetic cult of the imagination, an assertion of the spiritual quality of beauty in an age of vulgar materialism. The decadents, a diverse movement of writers, were the climax and exhaustion of this romantic tradition. In their art, they enacted the romance of faith as a protest against the dreariness of modern life. Ellis Hanson teases out two strands--eroticism and aestheticism--that rendered the decadent interest in Catholicism extraordinary. More than any other literary movement, the decadents explored the powerful historical relationship between homoeroticism and Roman Catholicism. Why, throughout history, have so many homosexuals been attracted to Catholic institutions that vociferously condemn homosexuality? This perplexing question is pursued in this elegant and innovative book.

Late-nineteenth-century aesthetes found in the Church a peculiar language that gave them a means of artistic and sexual expression. The brilliant cast of characters that parades through this book includes Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire, J.-K. Huysmans, Walter Pater, and Paul Verlaine. Art for these writers was a mystical and erotic experience. In decadent Catholicism we can glimpse the beginnings of a postmodern valorization of perversity and performativity. Catholicism offered both the hysterical symptom and the last hope for paganism amid the dullness of Victorian puritanism and bourgeois materialism.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674194465
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
02/01/1998
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Dialectic of Shame and Grace

Perfect Wagnerites

Christianity as Paradis Artificiel

Verlaine's Amour

In Praise of Shame

Huysmans Mystérique

Unconscious Unction

Conversion Hysteria

Christianity by the Back Door

Refined Thebaids

Pater Dolorosa

Pater Noster

Renaissance and Resurrection

Virgin Marius

Monkish Miracles

The Temptation of Saint Oscar

Christ for Christ's Sake

Ritualism and Dandyism

Seduction and the Scarlet Woman

The Confessional Unmasked

Priests and Acolytes

Fragrant Prayers

Father Silverpoints

Pio Corvo

Saint Oscar Redivivus

Conclusion

Notes

Index

Illustrations

The Wagnerites, by Aubrey Beardsley

The Ascension of Saint Rose of Lima, from Aubrey Beardsley's Under the Hill (1895)

Engraving of Charcot at the Salpêtrière

Drawing of Saint Philip, from Charcot and Richer's Les Démoniaques dans l'Art (1887)

The Crucifixion (1512-1516), by Matthias Grünewald (detail)

Salomé Dancing before Herod (1876), by Gustave Moreau

"Height of Fashion" (1866), from Punch

"Selling off!" (1851), from Punch

John and Salomé by Aubrey Beardsley, from Oscar Wilde's Salomé (1892)

"A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" (1877), from Punch

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