The Decadent Reader: Fiction, Fantasy, and Perversion from Fin-de-Siecle France

The Decadent Reader: Fiction, Fantasy, and Perversion from Fin-de-Siecle France

by Asti Hustvedt, J. K. Huysmans, Jean Lorrain, Barbey D'Aurevilly
     
 

In France at the end of the nineteenth century, progress and material prosperity coincided with widespread alarm about disease and decay. The obsessions of our own culture as the twentieth century came to a close resonate strikingly with those of the last fin-de-siècle: crime, pollution, sexually transmitted diseases,gender confusion, moral depravity,

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Overview

In France at the end of the nineteenth century, progress and material prosperity coincided with widespread alarm about disease and decay. The obsessions of our own culture as the twentieth century came to a close resonate strikingly with those of the last fin-de-siècle: crime, pollution, sexually transmitted diseases,gender confusion, moral depravity, alcoholism, and tobacco and drug use were topics of popular discussion then as now.The Decadent Reader is a collection of novels and stories from fin-de-siècle France that celebrate decline, aestheticize decay, and take pleasure in perversity. By embracing the marginal, the unhealthy, and the deviant, the decadent writers attacked bourgeois life, which they perceived to be the chief enemy of art. Barbey d'Aurevilly, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Jean Lorrain, Guy de Maupassant, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Catulle Mendès, Rachilde, Jean Moréas,Octave Mirbeau, Joséphin Péladan, and Remy de Gourmont looted the riches of their culture for their own purposes. In an age of medicine, they borrowed its occult mysteries rather than its positivism. From its social Darwinism, they found their monsters: sadists, murderers, transvestites, fetishists, prostitutes, nymphomaniacs,and hysterics. And they reveled in them, completely upending the conventions of romance and sentimentality. The Decadent Reader, which includes critical essays on all of the authors, many novels and stories that have never before appeared in English, and familiar works set in a new context, offers a compelling portrait of fin-de-siècle France.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
The end of the 20th century has renewed an interest in the end of the 19th century, in particular the aesthetes and fin-de-siecle writers of France who influenced writers like Oscar Wilde and pointed toward modernists such as James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot. Coined by Baudelaire to describe Edgar Allan Poe, Decadence represented an aesthetic/aristocratic attack on bourgeois culture, exploring themes of art, deviance, perversion, and marginalization. Editor Hustvedt has collected translations of 12 short novels or selections by Barbey d'Aurevilly, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Remy de Gourmont, and six others. Each selection includes an introduction by the translator. Hustvedt has performed a valuable service by providing this rich assortment of materials not otherwise readily available. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah, GA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781890951061
Publisher:
Zone Books
Publication date:
11/18/1998
Pages:
1088
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)

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