Cover

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The Decadent Republic of Letters

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Title

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Copyright

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Dedication

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CONTENTS

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Introduction. “Workers of the Final Hour”

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pp. 1-19

With surprisingly few exceptions, the history of the decadent movement has been told from the perspective of a single national tradition— with due acknowledgment of the French (most often), English, American, or German origin of this or that key figure or contributing intellectual thread. Written as part of a growing interest among scholars in cosmopolitanism, internationalism, and cross- Channel ...

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Chapter 1. “Partisans Inconnus”: Aesthetic Community and the Public Good in Baudelaire

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pp. 20-44

Several months after the December 1851 coup d’état that launched Louis Napoleon into power and replaced the unstable French Second Republic with the veritable police state of the Second Empire, Baudelaire wrote in a letter to his trustee Narcisse Ancelle that recent events had left him “physically depoliticized [dépolitiqué].”1 ...

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Chapter 2. The Politics of Appreciation: Gautier and Swinburne on Baudelaire

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pp. 45-69

In the introduction to his section on the decadents and aesthetes in Degeneration, Max Nordau offers a suggestive analogy for Baudelaire’s influence over later writers in the decadent movement. “As on the death of Alexander the Great,” he writes, “his generals fell on the conqueror’s empire, and each one seized a portion of land, so did the imitators that Baudelaire numbered ...

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Chapter 3. Golden Books: Pater, Huysmans, and Decadent Canonization

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pp. 70-102

Just prior to the famous passage in which he dreams of retreating to a “desert hermitage” set apart from the banalities of modern society, Des Esseintes fulminates about two problems: “He was constantly coming across some new source of offence, wincing at the patriotic or political twaddle [balivernes patriotiques et sociales] served up in the papers every morning, and exaggerating ...

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Chapter 4. A Mirror for Teachers: Decadent Pedagogy and Public Education

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pp. 103-130

I argued in the last chapter that decadent writers after 1870 make collecting and canon building a means of critiquing the rising tide of nationalism that followed in the wake of German unification. Manifestly artificial, and selected according to the perverse tastes of the collector, decadent collections oppose the putatively organic traditions represented by the canon of national ...

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Chapter 5. A Republic of (Nothing but) Letters: Some Versions of Decadent Community

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pp. 131-163

I noted at the beginning of Chapter 3 that Des Esseintes leaves Paris for the isolated “ark” he creates in the countryside out of an acute disenchantment with contemporary communities. The last of his line, he lacks a family, feels no connection with his old friends, can no longer accept the teachings of the church, and regards nationalism with unmitigated disdain. But this does not ...

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Postscript. Public Works: Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Le Tombeau de Charles Baudelaire”

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pp. 164-173

In 1892, Stéphane Mallarmé helped organize a committee to raise money for a monument in memory of Baudelaire. The committee tapped Auguste Rodin to design the monument, but he never completed the commission (the monument was not erected until 1902, several years after Mallarmé’s death; it was designed by a young sculptor ...

Notes

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pp. 175-204

Bibliography

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pp. 205-224

Index

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pp. 225-229

Acknowledgments

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pp. 231-232