Decadence and the Senses

Edited by Jane Desmarais and Alice Condé

Legenda (General Series)

Legenda

17 May 2017  •  258pp

ISBN: 978-1-781884-81-2 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ISBN: 978-1-781884-82-9 (paperback, 30 September 2018)  •  RRP £9.99, $12.50, €12.50

ISBN: 978-1-781884-83-6 (JSTOR ebook)

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Reading Decadence is an intersensorial experience. It is to indulge in voluptuous pleasures and excruciating pains, to sample exotic tastes and sounds, and to envisage states of mind in highly sensual terms. Obsessed with extreme sensory experiences, Decadent writers identified ways of shocking the middle classes and rejecting moralism by turning the conventional notion of 'good taste' on its head. This collection of essays explores the Decadent sensorium in the work of established and less well-known Decadent writers and artists, including Rachilde, Theodore Wratislaw, Arthur Symons, Mark André Raffalovich, J.-K. Huysmans, Theodore Watts-Dunton, Michael Field, Ernest Dowson, and Stéphane Mallarmé. Tracing sensual motifs and figures in the work of late nineteenth-century Decadent writers and artists, leading and emerging scholars in the field offer new and provocative insights into the Decadent imagination.

Jane Desmarais is Senior Lecturer in English at Goldsmiths, University of London. Alice Condé is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Reviews:

  • ‘I found Maxwell’s discussion of the tuberose, and more speci cally Walter Pater’s conscription of that flower to describe his own rarefied prose style, to be particularly interesting, as Pater’s writing is so often considered the acme of Decadent prose. It seems that the orchid that famously reminded Dorian Gray of the seven deadly sins should, perhaps, have been a tuberose. Equally interesting is Angela Dunstan’s suggestion that Theodore Watts-Dunton’s roman-à-clef Aylwin became for readers a means of owning the celebrity of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, or the notion extended by Liz Renes that John Singer Sargent’s Madame X should be considered a meditation on the white, sculptural body and its changing role in modern art.’ — Jamie Horrocks, English Literature in Translation 61.4, 2018, 525-28
  • ‘It is perhaps fitting that the unity of a book on Decadent literature should be best experienced ‘decomposed’ to give place to the independence of each chapter. There is no doubt, however, that the high quality of its constituent parts forms a significant contribution to Sensory Studies and that the collection is a ‘must-read’ for any student of Decadence at the fin de siècle and beyond.’ — Patricia Pulham, Modern Language Review 114.1, January 2019, 128-29 (full text online)
  • ‘Desmarais and Condé have done an enormous service by opening up this can of repulsive worms.’ — Dennis Denisoff, Victorian Studies 61.2, Winter 2019, 554-56

Contents:

i-vi
Decadence and the Senses: Decadence and the Senses
Jane Desmarais, Alice Condé
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vii-viii
Table of Contents
Jane Desmarais, Alice Condé
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ix-ix
Acknowledgements
Jane Desmarais, Alice Condé
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x-xii
Notes On the Contributors
Jane Desmarais, Alice Condé
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xiii-xiv
List of Illustrations
Jane Desmarais, Alice Condé
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1-14
Introduction
Jane Desmarais, Alice Condé
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15-31
Chapter 1 Symons and Whistler: the Art of Seeing
Nick Freeman
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32-50
Chapter 2 Carnal Flowers, Charnel Flowers: Perfume in the Decadent Literary Imagination
Catherine Maxwell
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51-65
Chapter 3 Decadent Sensuality in Rachilde and Wilde
Petra Dierkes-Thrun
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66-82
Chapter 4 ‘Things Worldly and Things Spiritual’: Huysmans’s À Rebours and the House at Fontenay
Jessica Gossling
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83-100
Chapter 5 All the Senses Would Melt Into One’: Theodore Watts-Dunton’s Aylwin and the Decadent Pleasures of the Roman-A-Clef
Angela Dunstan
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101-120
Chapter 6 ‘Use My Body Like the Pages of A Book’: Decadence and the Eroticized Text
Kostas Boyiopoulos
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121-140
Chapter 7 Bittersweet: Michael Field’s Sapphic Palate
Sarah Parker
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141-161
Chapter 8 Dancing the Image: Sensoriality and Kinesthetics in the Poetry of Stephane Mallarme and Arthur Symons
Katharina Herold
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162-181
Chapter 9 Decadent Sensations: Art, the Body and Sensuality in the ‘Little Magazines’ (1885–1897)
Matthew Brinton Tildesley
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182-199
Chapter 10 ‘Selecting, Transforming, Recombining’: John Singer Sargent’s Madame X and the Aesthetics of Sculptural Corporeality
Liz Renes
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200-218
Chapter 11 Sensory Nullification in the Poetry of Ernest Dowson
Alice Condé
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219-228
Chapter 12 Afterword: Decadent Taste
David Weir
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229-235
Appendix Carnal Flowers, Charnel Flowers: Perfume in the Decadent Imagination
Jane Desmarais, Alice Condé
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236-237
Select Bibliography
Jane Desmarais, Alice Condé
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238-244
Index
Jane Desmarais, Alice Condé
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Bibliography entry:

Desmarais, Jane, and Alice Condé (eds), Decadence and the Senses (Cambridge: Legenda, 2017)

First footnote reference: 35 Decadence and the Senses, ed. by Jane Desmarais and Alice Condé (Cambridge: Legenda, 2017), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Desmarais and Condé, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Desmarais, Jane, and Alice Condé (eds). 2017. Decadence and the Senses (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Desmarais and Condé 2017: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Desmarais and Condé 2017: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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