Decadence & Making Of Modernism

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Overview

The cultural phenomenon known as "decadence" has often been viewed as an ephemeral artistic vogue that fluorished briefly in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe. This study makes the case for decadence as a literary movement in its own right, based on a set of aesthetic principles that formed a transitional link between romanticism and modernism. Understood in this developmental context, decadence represents the aesthetic substratum of a wide range of fin-de-siecle literary schools, including naturalism, realism, Parnassianism, aestheticism, and symbolism. As an impulse toward modernism, it prefigures the thematic, structural, and stylistic concerns of later literature. David Weir demonstrates his thesis by analyzing a number of French, English, Italian, and American novels, each associated with some specific decadent literary tendency. The book concludes by arguing that the decadent sensibility persists in popular culture and contemporary theory, with multiculturalism and postmodernism representing its most current manifestations.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
What is Decadence? Most literary reference books don't list it as a movement; at most it's defined by time, place, a loose collection of titles, authors and little magazines, and how it shades into more established movements such as aestheticism, symbolism, naturalism. Weir, a professor of comparative literature and foreign languages, does a splendid job of breaking down the elements of decadence and of synthesizing current thinking on both it and modernism. Before going on to discuss Huysmans's A reboursperhaps the only unarguably decadent novelWeir describes the elements of decadence found in Flaubert's Salammb, the Goncourt brothers' Germinie Lacerteux and, in England 20 years later, Walter Pater's Marius the Epicurean. He then makes convincing arguments for the unmediated influence of decadence on modernist literature. Regarding Joyce, he shows not only that ``the unity of the book is decomposed... to give place to the independence of the word'' (to eviscerate Havelock Ellis), but also the heavy use of cultural references. He demonstrates that there is a deliberate anti-decadence in Gide's L'Immoraliste, which eschews decadent artificiality and sickness for a modernist health and naturalism. While Joyce, Gide, Flaubert, Huysmans are well known, Weir thankfully doesn't assume more than a passing acquaintance with his examples of decadence in decayOctave Mirbeau's Le Jardin des supplices, Ben Hecht's Fantazius Mallare and James Huneker's Painted Veils. Following decadence from romanticism to his postface on post-structuralism, Weir's study is intriguing, well-written and widely accessible. (Dec.)
Booknews
A comparative analysis of the Czech Republic's economic transition after the fall of the Communist bloc, edited by a principal architect of the Czech economic transformation and Economic Advisor to Vaclav Havel. Thirty five essayists (primarily Czech economists) describe the country's macroeconomic performance; its development of capital markets; the structure and performance of its industries; its unemployment, household behavior, and income distribution; and the environmental and health issues it faces. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870239915
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 1/5/1996
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.73 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Abbreviations
1 The Definition of Decadence 1
2 Decadence and Romanticism: Flaubert's Salammbo 22
3 Decadence and Naturalism: The Goncourts' Germinie Lacerteux 43
4 Decadence and Aestheticism: Pater's Marius the Epicurean 59
5 Decadence and Decadisme: A Rebours and Afterward 82
6 Decadence and Modernism: Joyce and Gide 119
7 The Decline of Decadence 151
Postface 192
Notes 205
Index 227
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