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By Charles Bernheimer

Charles Bernheimer defined decadence as a "stimulant that bends notion off form, deforming conventional conceptual molds." during this posthumously released paintings, Bernheimer succeeds in creating a serious idea out of this perennially trendy, hardly ever understood term.

Decadent Subjects is a coherent and relocating photograph of fin de siècle decadence. Mature, ironic, iconoclastic, and considerate, this striking selection of essays exhibits the contradictions of the phenomenon, that's either a and a frame of mind. In looking to exhibit why humans have didn't supply a passable account of the time period decadence, Bernheimer argues that we regularly mistakenly take decadence to symbolize anything concrete, that we see as a few kind of agent. His salutary reaction is to come back to these authors and artists whose paintings constitutes the topos of decadence, rereading key past due nineteenth-century authors equivalent to Nietzsche, Zola, Hardy, Wilde, Moreau, and Freud to rediscover the very dynamics of the decadent. via cautious research of the literature, artwork, and track of the fin de siècle together with a riveting dialogue of the numerous faces of Salome, Bernheimer leaves us with a desirable and multidimensional examine decadence, all of the extra vital as we emerge from our personal fin de siècle.

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Extra resources for Decadent subjects : the idea of decadence in art, literature, philosophy, and culture of the fin de siècle in Europe

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Thus Nietzsche approves of the healthy man’s “instinctive aversion against décadents” (CW, 192). ” He now applies these judgments only to himself and to the few others who are constitutionally healthy and hence capable of what he calls “self-overcoming” (CW, 155). In The Case of Wagner, the self that he claims to have overcome is the one who was “a child of this time; that is, a décadent” (CW, 155) and who identified with Wagner as the embodiment of this typically modern sensibility. In Nietzsche’s analysis, Wagner’s decadent genius  Nietzsche’s Decadence Philosophy is characterized by pathological manifestations such as hysteria, nervous excitability, histrionics, mendacity, visual restlessness, sensationalism, aesthetic fragmentation, effeminacy, and more.

Riddles and iridescent uncertainties” (GS, 38) that obscure the naked truth of nature. “Perhaps truth is a woman,” he speculates, “who has reasons (Gründe) for not letting us see her Gründe. Perhaps her name is—to speak Greek— Baubo” (GS, 38). Kaufmann translates the second Gründe like the first as “reasons,” but Nietzsche no doubt intended to exploit the double meaning of Gründe that this translation obscures. What truth veils is woman’s fleshly ground, her biological rationale, her physiological essence, just what the figure of Baubo reveals: the female genitals.

As to my choice of Salammbô to exemplify a decadent attitude to history, I hope my analysis will make clear in what sense it is justified. Numerous figures of the fin de siècle acknowledged the formative influence of Flaubert’s novel. To name a few: Swinburne delighted in the famous scene of what he called a “mystic marriage” between the princess and her sacred black python;4 the lapidary imagery of Mallarmé’s Hérodiade is indebted to Flaubert’s Carthaginian decor; Huysmans’s des Esseintes praises Salammbô for its evocation of an exotic era of barbarity and opulence; Gustave Moreau’s painting style appears to imitate Flaubert’s verbal style in this novel;5 and so forth.

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