Hideous Absinthe: A Story of the Devil in a Bottle

Overview

    Hideous Absinthe boldly combines the art, literature, science, and social history of the nineteenth century to produce the story of a drink that came to symbolize both the high points of art and the depths of degeneration.
    Jad Adams looks at the myths of absinthe and examines its influence on the artistic movements of the nineteenth century. He considers the work of Degas, Manet, and Picasso, who painted what are now considered ...

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Overview

    Hideous Absinthe boldly combines the art, literature, science, and social history of the nineteenth century to produce the story of a drink that came to symbolize both the high points of art and the depths of degeneration.
    Jad Adams looks at the myths of absinthe and examines its influence on the artistic movements of the nineteenth century. He considers the work of Degas, Manet, and Picasso, who painted what are now considered masterpieces depicting absinthe drinkers. He examines the mystery of van Gogh’s absinthe addiction and asks whether absinthe truly did contribute to the poetic vision of Verlaine, Rimbaud, and other writers.
    Adams looks back at absinthe’s contribution to the hedonistic culture of the French Second Empire and to Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris of the 1890s and details the outraged English reaction to absinthe in the context of resistance to French art. Absinthe was seen as a foreign poison undermining the national resolve just as the decadence of Oscar Wilde and his circle was seen to undermine national culture.
    The story continues through thrill-seeking American and English absinthe drinkers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Copublished with I.B. Tauris.
The Wisconsin edition is for sale only in North America.

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Editorial Reviews

Christine Schwartz Hartley
Adams offers rich historical context, cultural perspective, anecdotes and pointed observations, for instance, that for turn-of-the-century British bohemians, ''coming to terms with absinthe was as much a part of becoming an artist as finding a studio.'' He finds no reason to believe, as is often claimed, that the ''green fairy'' sparked the radical new art of heavy drinkers like Verlaine, Rimbaud, van Gogh, Gauguin, Wilde and Strindberg. Still, as absinthe's recent European comeback demonstrates, the promise of rare new altered states remains. This book is as titillating as it is sobering.
The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299200008
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jad Adams is a television producer and author whose last book, Madder Music, Stronger Wine, received resounding critical praise. He has also written biographies of Tony Benn and of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. He lives in London and on the Greek island of Leros.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Acknowledgements
Introduction: The Devil Made Liquid 1
1 Bitter Beginnings 15
2 The Green Hour and the New Art 24
3 Absinthe for the People 46
4 Poets Breaking the Rules 65
5 Madmen of Art 87
6 The Absinthe Binge 123
7 English Decadence and French Morals 138
8 Anglo-Saxon Attitudes 159
9 Absinthe Paranoia 177
10 Twilight of the Fee Verte 196
11 Green in the USA 216
12 Pop Goes the Fairy 236
App 'Lendemain' 251
Notes on the Text 253
Select Bibliography 275
Index 283
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