Decadence and the Making of Modernism

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9780870239915: Decadence and the Making of Modernism
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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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About the Author:

Weir-Cofounder of the Center for Investigative Journal

From Publishers 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 rebours-perhaps the only unarguably decadent novel-Weir describes the elements of decadence found in Flaubert's Salammbo, 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 decay-Octave 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.

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9780870239922: Decadence and the Making of Modernism

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ISBN 10:  0870239929 ISBN 13:  9780870239922
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996
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Weir, David
Published by University of Massachusetts Press (1996)
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Book Description University of Massachusetts Press, 1996. Condition: Good. Ships from Reno, NV. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Seller Inventory # GRP88607368

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