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9781421429434
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v2.1 Reference

Decadence in the Age of Modernism

Edited by Kate Hext and Alex Murray

Decadence in the Age of Modernism begins where the history of the decadent movement all too often ends: in 1895. It argues that the decadent principles and aesthetics of Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, Algernon Swinburne, and others continued to exert a compelling legacy on the next generation of writers, from high modernists and late decadents to writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Writers associated with this decadent counterculture were consciously celebrated but more often blushingly denied, even as they exerted a compelling influence on the early twentieth century.

Offering a multifaceted critical revision of how modernism evolved out of, and coexisted with, the decadent movement, the essays in this collection reveal how decadent principles infused twentieth-century prose, poetry, drama, and newspapers. In particular, this book demonstrates the potent impact of decadence on the evolution of queer identity and self-fashioning in the early twentieth century. In close readings of an eclectic range of works by Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and D. H. Lawrence to Ronald Firbank, Bruce Nugent, and Carl Van Vechten, these essays grapple with a range of related issues, including individualism, the end of Empire, the politics of camp, experimentalism, and the critique of modernity.

Contributors: Howard J. Booth, Joseph Bristow, Ellen Crowell, Nick Freeman, Ellis Hanson, Kate Hext, Kirsten MacLeod, Kristin Mahoney, Douglas Mao, Michèle Mendelssohn, Alex Murray, Sarah Parker, Vincent Sherry

About the Authors

Kate Hext is a senior lecturer in English at the University of Exeter. She is the author of Walter Pater: Individualism and Aesthetic Philosophy. Alex Murray is a senior lecturer in modern literature at Queen's University, Belfast. He is the author of Landscapes of Decadence: Literature and Place at the Fin De Siècle.

Endorsements

"This book will be of great value to those interested in the literary and cultural history of decadence and aestheticism, of modernism, of camp, and of queer culture."

- David Weir, Cooper Union, author of Decadence: A Very Short Introduction

"A timely and potentially foundational text. The level of scholarship in the collection is impressive, and the pieces discuss a satisfying range of both canonical and lesser-known figures, with a valuable emphasis on the role of women and black writers."

- Matthew Potolsky, University of Utah, author of The Decadent Republic of Letters: Taste, Politics, and Cosmopolitan Community from Baudelaire to Beardsley

"The modernists were confident that they had laid it to rest, but the spirit of decadence continued to haunt their works. The splendid essays in this collection show in fascinating detail how a 'new' decadence after Wilde offered perverse aesthetic and political challenges to the heroic narrative of experimental modernism."

- Peter Nicholls, New York University, author of Modernisms: A Literary Guide

"This lucid and compelling collection of essays ranges from the late nineteenth century to high modernism, exploring manifestations of decadence in work from both sides of the Atlantic. Decadence in the Age of Modernism presents a whole that is more than the sum of its parts, as the best collections do. It reveals decadence as a multifariously generative force whose energies fed both the center and the margins of modernism, and which lived on as a style and as a dynamic process long after it was considered over as a movement. A significant statement in a growing field, this book will be an important point of reference for many scholars."

- Marion Thain, King's College London, author of The Lyric Poem and Aestheticism: Forms of Modernity
Johns Hopkins University Press
Hopkins Studies in Modernism
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