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

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

by Asti Hustvedt (Editor)


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A collection of stories and novels from fin-de-siècle France that celebrate decline, decay, and deviance.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781890951078
Publisher: Zone Books
Publication date: 12/01/1998
Series: Zone Books
Pages: 1096
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

Table of Contents

Introduction by Asti Hustvedt
Les Diaboliques
Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly
Introduction by Peter Brooks
Monsieur Vénus
Introduction by Janet Beizer
A Haven
J.-K. Huysmans
Introduction by Charles Bernheimer
The Future Eve
Villiers de l'Isle-Adam
Introduction by Asti Hustvedt
La Faënza
Jean Moréas
Introduction by Françoise Meltzer
Catulle Mendès
Introduction by Barbara Spackman
The Ritual of Love
Joséphin Péladan
Introduction by Jennifer Birkett
Jean Lorrain
Introduction by Jennifer Birkett
Remy de Gourmont
Introduction by Jennifer Birkett
Octave Mirbeau
Introduction by Emily Apter
Selections from Saint Lydwine of Schiedam
J.-K. Huysmans
Introduction by Richard Sieburth
A Select Chronology of Fin-de-Sièle France

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