Fragments, Genius and Madness
Masks and Mask-Making in the fin-de-siècle Imagination

Elisa Segnini

Studies In Comparative Literature 56

Legenda

26 July 2021  •  204pp

ISBN: 978-1-781888-54-4 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95

ISBN: 978-1-781888-58-2 (paperback, 21 December 2023  )

ISBN: 978-1-781888-62-9 (JSTOR ebook)

Access online: Books@JSTOR

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In addition to its original library hardback edition, this title is now on sale in the new student-priced Legenda paperback range.


At the turn of the nineteenth century, as inquiries about degeneration shaped medical, sociological and anthropological discourses, masks flourished as portraits, ornaments, and disguises. This comparative study explores tales that revolve around masks and mask-making in relation to nineteenth-century thought, offering innovative readings of fictional and dramatic works by Max Beerbohm, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Jean Lorrain, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Andrey Bely, next to artefacts such as the plaster cast of the Inconnue de la Seine, the waxes of criminals held in Cesare Lombroso’s museum, Rodin’s ‘horror masks’ modelled after a Japanese dancer. In the fin-de-siècle imagination, the author argues, masks addressed two concepts: the repressed elements of the psyche and the perceived parameters of a declining phase in Western civilization. By uncovering the role of masks as key tropes in fin-de-siècle culture, this monograph also demonstrates to what extent the medical, anthropological and aesthetic spheres overlapped, offering insights that contribute to debates about gender and ethnicity in decadence and modernist studies.

Elisa Segnini is a Lecturer in Italian at the University of Glasgow.

Reviews:

  • ‘The wide-ranging approach of the book, which also engages with recent debates in decadence and early modernist studies, openly challenges the “abrupt separation between authors associated with the ‘half-mock interlude of decadence’ and those considered exponents of symbolism, and thus part of early modernism”... The author keeps steady command of her arguments while navigating and scrutinising several artifacts from different cultures, though of course each case study shows its own fine tuning.’ — Giulio Milone, Synergies 2, 2021, 65-68 (full text online)
  • ‘Elisa Segnini leads her readers on a journey through fin-de-siècle Europe with one extra stop in Japan. The universe unveiled by Segnini is populated by uncanny mask makers, men in drag, grotesque masquerades, deathly plaster casts, gruesome masks of exceptional men, criminals, and deviants... A distinctive contribution to a field that can only benefit from engaging with the anthropological, medical, and legal discourse that underlies the artistic production of the fin de siècle.’ — Alessandra Crotti, Rivista di studi vittoriani 53, 2022, 121-25

Contents:

1-16

Introduction
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.5

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17-40

Chapter 1 From Objects To ‘Things’: Masks and Mask-Making in Fin-De-Siècle Europe
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.6

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41-72

Chapter 2 Mask-Makers: From Ensor To Rodin, Via Japan
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.7

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73-94

Chapter 3 Masking Dorian Gray: Fetishism and Ego-Mania in Beerbohm and Le Gallienne
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.8

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95-120

Chapter 4 Fragments: Gabriele D’annunzio and Medusa’s Head
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.9

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121-142

Chapter 5 Masks-Phobia: Jean Lorrain
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.10

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143-166

Chapter 6 Masquerades: the Child, the Criminal and the ‘Savage’ in Hofmannsthal and Bely
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.11

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167-170

Conclusion
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.12

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171-172

Afterword
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.13

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173-186

Bibliography
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.14

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187-194

Index
Elisa Segnini
doi:10.2307/j.ctv1wsgrnp.15

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Bibliography entry:

Segnini, Elisa, Fragments, Genius and Madness: Masks and Mask-Making in the fin-de-siècle Imagination, Studies In Comparative Literature, 56 (Legenda, 2021)

First footnote reference: 35 Elisa Segnini, Fragments, Genius and Madness: Masks and Mask-Making in the fin-de-siècle Imagination, Studies In Comparative Literature, 56 (Legenda, 2021), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Segnini, p. 47.

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

Bibliography entry:

Segnini, Elisa. 2021. Fragments, Genius and Madness: Masks and Mask-Making in the fin-de-siècle Imagination, Studies In Comparative Literature, 56 (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Segnini 2021: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Segnini 2021: 21.

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


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