Decadence

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Anthony Mandal (Cardiff University)
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  • The Literary Encyclopedia. WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.

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In the development of modern Western literature, the Decadent movement of the late nineteenth century enjoys an ambiguous status, significant yet subversive. Decadence vocalizes the paradox of modern cosmopolitans who found themselves dependent on a lifestyle which they inherently despised. The term itself is one fraught with difficulties: it is more than a synonym for “decay” or “immorality”, and the immediate popularity achieved by the term indicates that it addressed a wide-spread and until-then unconscious need.

The writers of the early eighteenth century never experienced that characteristic uneasiness with the city and civilization which was to become the Romantic inheritance. Not until Rousseau’s Discours de Dijons (1750) did writers begin seriously to consider modern

2471 words

Citation: Mandal, Anthony. "Decadence". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 February 2001 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=256, accessed 23 February 2024.]

256 Decadence 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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