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Decadence: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Weir, David (Professor Emeritus of Compa
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 160
Pub Date: 16/04/2018
Publisher: O.U.P.
ISBN: 9780190610227
Availability: In stock
Price-Match is available in-store only for recommended titles in CCCU module handbooks
Tutor: Ian Higgins
Department: School of Humanities
Quick overview Decadence: A Very Short Introduction provides an elegant overview of the culture of decadence - defined as the artistic expression of a conflicted sense of modernity - by tracing its origin in ancient Rome, development in nineteenth-century Paris and London, manifestation in early twentieth-century Vienna and Berlin, and present resonance in contemporary life.
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The historical trajectory of decadent culture runs from ancient Rome, to nineteenth-century Paris, Victorian London, fin de siecle Vienna, Weimar Berlin, and beyond. The first of these, the decline of Rome, provides the pattern for both aesthetic and social decadence, a pattern that artists and writers in the nineteenth century imitated, emulated, parodied, and otherwise manipulated for aesthetic gain. What begins as the moral condemnation of modernity
in mid-nineteenth century France on the part of decadent authors such as Charles Baudelaire ends up as the perverse celebration of the pessimism that imperial decline, whether real or imagined, involves. This delight in decline informs the so-called breviary, or even bible, of decadence from Joris-Karl Huysmans's
A Rebours, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Aubrey Beardsley's drawings, Gustav Klimt's paintings, and numerous other works.

In this Very Short Introduction, David Weir explores these conflicting attitudes towards modernity present in decadent culture by examining the difference between aesthetic decadence - the excess of artifice - and social decadence, which involves excess in a variety of forms, whether perversely pleasurable or gratuitously cruel. Such contrariness between aesthetic and social decadence led some of its practitioners to substitute art for life and to stress the importance of taste over morality,
a maneuver with far-reaching consequences, especially as decadence enters the realm of popular culture today.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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