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v2.1 Reference

Decadent Subjects

The Idea of Decadence in Art, Literature, Philosophy, and Culture of the Fin de Siècle in Europe

Charles Bernheimer described decadence as a "stimulant that bends thought out of shape, deforming traditional conceptual molds." In this posthumously published work, Bernheimer succeeds in making a critical concept out of this perennially fashionable, rarely understood term.

Decadent Subjects is a coherent and moving picture of fin de siècle decadence. Mature, ironic, iconoclastic, and thoughtful, this remarkable collection of essays shows the contradictions of the phenomenon, which is both a condition and a state of mind. In seeking to show why people have failed to give a satisfactory account of the term decadence, Bernheimer argues that we often mistakenly take decadence to represent something concrete, that we see as some sort of agent. His salutary response is to return to those authors and artists whose work constitutes the topos of decadence, rereading key late nineteenth-century authors such as Nietzsche, Zola, Hardy, Wilde, Moreau, and Freud to rediscover the very dynamics of the decadent. Through careful analysis of the literature, art, and music of the fin de siècle including a riveting discussion of the many faces of Salome, Bernheimer leaves us with a fascinating and multidimensional look at decadence, all the more important as we emerge from our own fin de siècle.

About the Authors

Charles Bernheimer was a prominent scholar in the areas of European literature, culture, and psychoanalysis. He taught Romance languages and comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania and authored and edited several books, including Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism, part of Johns Hopkins' Parallax series.Naomi Schor is the Benjamin F. Barge Professor of French in the Department of French at Yale University.T. Jefferson Kline is a professor of French at Boston University.

Reviews

"Effortlessly integrating his amazing archival research, Bernheimer gives readers the sense of being in a collegial seminar with him."

- Choice

Endorsements

"Charlie had many friends, admirers and intellectual interlocutors in the field, and the book will find an important place with them, both as a homage to his memory, and as a testimonial to the kind of literary-historical-psychoanalytical scholarship he represented in literary studies."

- Emily S. Apter, University of California Los Angeles

"An excellent book by a well-known authority in the areas of European literature, culture, and psychoanalysis."

- Christopher S. Nassaar - Pre-Raphaelite Studies
Johns Hopkins University Press
Parallax: Re-visions of Culture and Society
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Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism

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