Decadent women writers

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Decadent women writers

tammikuu 15, 2009, 11:28 pm

Two decadent women writers are mentioned in "Dedalus Book of Decadents"; Rachilde (Marguerite Eymery) and Vernon Lee (Violet Paget). Rachilde's novels include; "Nono", "La Marquise de Sade", "Monsieur Venus" and "La Jongleuse".
Also mentioned is Eugene Lee-Hamilton, half-brother to Vernon Lee, who wrote "The New Medusa" and "The Lord of the Dark Red Star". Anyone read any of these or anything else by them? Any recommendations?

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 15, 2009, 11:50 pm

Give me a day to think about it. I would definitely include Colette's The Pure and the Impure in this category. Elaine Showalter has edited entitled Daughters of Decadence. Of the writers with which I'm familiar in this anthology, none strike me as decadent.

tammikuu 15, 2009, 11:48 pm

And although a bit late for the fin de siècle decadent movement: Story of O an erotic novel published in 1954 about dominance and submission by French author Anne Desclos under the pen name Pauline Réage.

tammikuu 16, 2009, 5:22 pm

Is Story of O erotic? I took it to be a thoughtful allegory of mystical commitment. It didn't turn me on.


tammikuu 16, 2009, 5:35 pm

Good question Robert. I forgot to put quotation marks around the section of the sentence following the title. My very bad, bad. As to your question, I suppose the eroticism of the book depends on the reader. I first encountered The Story of O when I was in the seventh grade (1973). I was horrified and terrified by the book at the time. I could not understand why a woman would willingly debase herself in such a way. I'm not sure what my response would be today. "Erotic" definitely would not be among the contenders. I am not sure I would elevate to the level of allegory of mystical commitment either. Rather, I am reminded of Foucault's search in his last years for the liminal experience. I'll have to think a bit more on the topic. It is one of those texts that reminds me a bit of Bataille's writing.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 16, 2009, 6:27 pm

Vernon Lee's supernatural stories, collected in Hauntings (no touchstone, hm), are a must. Ash Tree Press issued a nice edition a few years back. Javier Marias includes her in Written Lives.

And speaking of decadent women, there is a nice collection of short stories called A World Apart and Other Stories: Czech Women Writers at the Fin De Siecle. Also be sure to check out Zinaida Gippius (Zinaida Hippius) and Djuna Barnes and The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 16, 2009, 9:02 pm

Maybe I should re-read "Nightwood" sometime, just to see if it holds up? Nah. Too many books. Too little time. The Czech book sounds interesting.

tammikuu 16, 2009, 8:18 pm

Ben, I was looking for Vernon Lee's books on Amazon, and I must say that most of them are expensive (even the used copies). Any idea where to find some reasonably priced?
The Yellow Wallpaper is excellent!

tammikuu 16, 2009, 10:47 pm


I can see how Djuna Barnes could be categorized as decadent, but Charlotte Perkins Gilman? To be sure Elaine Showalter includes The Yellow Wallpaper in her anthology Daughters of Decadence, but I just don't see how this work can be classified as decadent. Would you care to elaborate on your reasons for putting The Yellow Wallpaper in this category?

tammikuu 19, 2009, 2:00 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

tammikuu 20, 2009, 6:18 am

Some will find The Story of O erotic and others won't. I don't think there can be any doubt, however, that Desclos intended it to be erotic. She apparently wrote the book for the express purpose of keeping her diplomat lover titillated.

tammikuu 20, 2009, 10:07 am

8. Project Gutenberg has several Vernon Lee's;
The Beautiful
An Introduction to Psychological Aesthetics (English)
Hauntings (English)
Hortus Vitae
Essays on the Gardening of Life (English)
A Phantom Lover (English)

tammikuu 20, 2009, 2:42 pm

Desclos/Reage wrote a sequel to The Story of O called Return to the Chateau.

The Dedalus book of Russian Decadence contains a great short story by Zinaida Gippius called The Living and the Dead. It also contains a number of her wonderful poems.

I can't wait to read the Vernon Lee stories on gutenberg. Thankyou.

tammikuu 20, 2009, 9:17 pm

Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae brought together ancient and modern, high and low art, and a deft critical eye to the concept of decadence. She's a sort of Samuel Johnson of the decadent and depraved. She just needs to stop writing her column, since that is turning her into a Christopher Hitchens-sized idiot.

Does Madonna's SEX book count?

Storm Constantine's Wraeththu has many elements of decadence, especially in the first book of the trilogy.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 21, 2009, 9:01 am

Sorry I've been late:

8. It looks as though someone has found free copies of Vernoin Lee's ghost stories - this is good. There are cheapish paperback versions of Hauntings available on as well.

9. Why do I call the Yellow Wallpaper decadent... hm, well, to be honest, mainly out of laziness: its time period, the whole yellow thing (always some sort of fungal rotting of the character)... the exposure of the underside of things - the horror of marriage and the network of cosmic oppression which defines and crushes identities... there also seems to be a slight nod to Wilde's Dorian Gray - as the figure in the wallpaper emerges more clearly reciprocal changes occur in the narrator who ends her days scuttling around on the floor.

I think the main reason I suggested/remembered it (it is very brief, and, I think, because of that, not overly powerful) was on the basis of a PBS dramatization I saw years ago which played up the decadent horror story aspect of it.

I don't know if Djuna Barnes can be properly called a decadent either. Nightwood is unusual, lavish, oneiric, uncommon - peopled with magnificent freaks - which makes it a nice fit it in my canon of extravagants.

I do need to read Zinaida Gippius - I am curious to know more about her. She was, along with Sologub, Bryusov, Bely, Blok, etc., associated with the Russian decadents and symbolists. I have a fair amount on and by her and will report.

tammikuu 21, 2009, 2:04 pm

Some wikipedia editors find The Yellow Wallpaper canonically decadent. Just using "yellow" in a title during that period practically crosses the threshold of decadence.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 21, 2009, 3:50 pm

Unfortunately, this writer has never been translated into English, but I have to mention her at least:

Marija Jurić Zagorka, 1873-1957

She wrote mostly historical fiction, all of it gothic-flavoured and much of it, especially the city novels, decadence-tinged, for which she was relegated by the stolid early critics to the trash heap for decades. I never finished her masterpiece--"Grička vještica", "The witch from Grič" (Grič is one of the hills and later city quarters of Zagreb), a multiple novel cycle, but I'm comfortable stating that she falls at least in the respectable middle of decadent fare (perhaps not saying much, seeing how much of it is ridiculous junk). Censorship saw to it that she endowed the story with a proper anti-superstition line, which doesn't diminish the meatiness of the witchery, horror etc. in the least.

tammikuu 22, 2009, 10:42 am

Geek Love by Katherine Dunne might be a borderline case. Peopled by freaks -- real freaks, not just eccentrics and dandies. It also very dark and darkly humorous. The fanatical religion that develops from the rantings of the limbless character (forget his name) is disturbing and provocative. Plus there's a stripper with a tail.

tammikuu 22, 2009, 12:08 pm


While there always have been and always will be "decadent" periods (not to mention individuals), the term as used in this group refers by and large to the Decadent movement of the late nineteenth century.

tammikuu 22, 2009, 1:40 pm

I think we have defined a decadent orthodoxy ;) - I have its perfect slogan:

"But I revolted; esteeming it apt and proper rabidly to inveigh against these heterodoxies...".

Fr. Rolfe

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 22, 2009, 6:29 pm

19. Yes!
20. Yes!

I use the term "decadent" to refer to the cultural revolution that took place during the late nineteenth century. To me it is all about having the chutzpah to live your life according to your own rules in defiance of the accepted rules of society. It's about individuality. It's about creating your own reality. It's about non-conformity. It's about art for art's sake. It is NOT about the incidental details, like green carnations. It is very difficult to define and Baron Corvo has expressed it all so well in that one sentence.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 17, 2009, 9:23 pm

Do pick up Don Renato for the unclipped version; nothing is more amusing than the baron's unhappiness! Many of Corvo's books have been reprinted and are more-or-less affordable.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 23, 2009, 8:53 am

Re: 17. Thanks, Lola. And here is a translation of a chapter of The Witch of Gric: The Secret of the Bloody Bridge:

tammikuu 23, 2009, 11:08 am

Another reason to read Darconville's Cat. Antonin Artaud is another artist of invective. Can't really peg him down to a specific movement, but he's in the Surrealist-Dadaist-Post-Decadent scene.

tammikuu 23, 2009, 11:34 am

Didn't Breton throw him out of the club for being too committed (sorry about the pun there)?

tammikuu 24, 2009, 12:46 pm

He threw out somebody else and then they lit themselves on fire. Breton was kind of a dick.

tammikuu 29, 2009, 5:32 pm

Re: Women Decadent Writers

We have not mentioned Judith Gautier so far in this thread.

I ran across a bio that looks good. I have added it to my shopping list. It's called Judith Gautier: Writer, Orientalist, Musicologist, Feminist by Bettina L. Knapp.

I am in search of a copy of The Imperial Dragon by Judith Gautier as well.

So far all I know of her is from her charming poems in Pastels in Prose.

tammikuu 29, 2009, 10:00 pm

A modern Decadent woman writer could be Kathy Acker, since she took a rusty chainsaw to the status quo.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 2009, 10:03 pm

I have recently discovered, but know little about, George Egerton (Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright). She was, among other, and likely more notable things, mistress and translator to Knut Hamsun. If anyone knows more about her and her writings beyond what I have pinched from WIKIPEDIA - please sound off. I have a copy of Fantasias, summarized somewhere as a collection of "Nietzschean Fables".

May your darling ears forgive me:

kesäkuu 9, 2009, 12:07 am

Considering Hamsum's Nazi sympathies, it would fascinating to look at those "Nietzschean Fables." Grimm meets Zarathustra and Shock-headed Peter's Will to Power with gnomes.

heinäkuu 24, 2009, 7:24 pm

I would include Leonora Carrington in this group.

heinäkuu 25, 2009, 5:10 pm

"Will to Power with gnomes"... that sentence has haunted my thoughts for 30 fevered days and as many sleepless nights...fate in the cruel accomplished hands of nazi gnomides....

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 25, 2009, 10:34 pm

32: yes, and we should not neglect Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, Olive Custance, George Egerton, or Louise Imogen Guiney. This is an interesting topic....

heinäkuu 27, 2009, 9:28 am

Here is a link to some of Guiney's online essays (from the collection Patrins):

heinäkuu 30, 2009, 1:27 pm


Really? I only read The hearing trumpet, which seems to me a negation of everything decadent.

heinäkuu 30, 2009, 7:18 pm


The Don Marquis is hilarious. "The almost perfect state"

Muokkaaja: elokuu 5, 2009, 10:20 pm

I'm going to be a purist and stick with Rachilde. Colette, marginally. I think it's a little silly to toss around names like Carrington et al, who had nothing to do with the decadent movement, the era, or a lifestyle in imitation of the ideal. As a female, I'm chagrined there aren't more that meet the criteria (in my estimation), but that's the era for you.

For style's sake I'll throw in the Marchesa Casati. She was was nothing if not an embodiment of the decadent ideal (not to mention a lover and muse of a proper Decadent writer). I wish she'd been of the creative ilk, alas.

I hope this doesn't come off terribly misspelled or pugnaciously rash (rashly pugnacious?), since I've had a little much wine tonight. Cheers!

elokuu 5, 2009, 10:33 pm


Oh, there were more than just Rachilde (in France)--I'd include Renée Vivien, for example. Death-seeking, cross-dressing lesbian alcoholic and anorexic diva--it don't get more decadent than that.

But, expanding the field beyond France unearths more decadent female writers, even if their numbers decidedly lag behind the men's.

I must say that I don't think of that as a failure, though. I like to think that most of decadent philosophy and ethos is simply too stupid and reactionary for women to embrace. :)

elokuu 7, 2009, 4:02 am

Good point re Vivien. A lot of the non-French decadent-ish women writers seem to tend towards other trends though. Like Dagny Juel or Zinaida Hippius, who were more Symbolist (satanist in Dagny's case?) than Decadent, methinks. What Rachilde did nail was the post-À Rebours trend in Decadent writing to wax playful, caricatured, over the top, what one scholar (can't recall who off the top of my head) referred to as "bas-decadent" literature. I can't think of any other woman who did this. Though I confess I have no idea what Judith Gautier did. I'll have to look into her....

elokuu 7, 2009, 9:34 am

Her exotico-decadent poems are included in Stuart Merrill's anthology Pastels in Prose. I don't know much about her either, but she seems, like her father, to have been fairly prolific - writing novels, poetry and dramatic pieces, often set in an exotic Asia (she read Chinese, and translated Chinese poetry while still in her teens). After a bout of wedlock with Catulle Mendes, she took up with Pierre Loti, who exuberantly shared her passion for the exotic orient (I forgo the obligatory quotation marks). I believe she was one of Richard Wagner's early passions as well....

I think her books are still available. There is a biography, by Remy de Gourmont, but I do not know if it was ever translated into English.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 7, 2009, 3:57 pm

There is a bio in english, Judith Gautier: A Biography by Joanna Richardson written in the eighties.

Translated works include:

The Book of Jade

Chinese Lyrics from the Book of Jade

The Imperial Dragon

The Daughter of Heaven(with Pierre Loti)

Wagner at Home(bio)

Translations are rather scarce and sometimes very expensive. Works in french are plentiful however.

I was charmed by the poems included in Pastels in Prose and have been a big fan of her father Theophile for a long time. I'm trying to collect all of these currently.

I am curious about Madame Stuart Merrill. Delville's enigmatic portrait of her is very intrigueing. I don't even know her first name though. Does anyone have any leads?

Lola and Stinking_Lilies, many thanks for introducing me to Renée Vivien and Dagny Juel.

elokuu 7, 2009, 7:00 pm

A Belgian waif and close-to-nature sensitive; I believe they called her "Bob". Now that I think of it, she looks, hair-wise, par Delville, like David Lynch's dude-fatal of the same name.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 8, 2009, 8:35 pm

Another name is Jane de la Vaudère. Has anyone read her?

Muokkaaja: elokuu 12, 2009, 2:05 am

You should check some of the novels written by Marie-Louise-Antoinette de Hérédia de Régnier (pen name Gérard d'Houville); she was one of the three daughters of the the Cuban-French poet José María de Hérédia. Marie-Louise was a poet, and novelist and lovers collector. She was involved with Pierre Louys, the symbolist poet Régnier, the Italian decadent Gabrielle D'Annunzio, Colette's husband, etc. She was some type of "femme fatale." She convinced her sister Loulouse to marry Pierre Louys to have her lover living in the same house. Marie-Louise was very beautiful and was considered the perfect French beauty of the Belle Epoque. She was the first woman accepted in L'Académie Francaise.

elokuu 13, 2009, 2:17 pm

I have not seen the names of Natalie Clifford Barney and Dolly Wilde (Oscar Wilde's niece) mentioned before. They are a good examples of decadent women writers and/or intellectuals. I think I read somewhere that Natalie was involved romantically with Dolly Wilde. I need to check again.

elokuu 13, 2009, 2:55 pm

I like the name, Dolly Wilde. According to that pure source of ready at hand knowledge, Wikipedia, the two ladies were acquainted, often. This is a bit gamy:

"(Dolly) Wilde seemed bent on self-destruction. She drank heavily, was addicted to heroin, and attempted suicide several times. Barney financed detoxifications, which were never effective; she emerged from one nursing-home stay with a new dependency on the sleeping draught paraldehyde, then available over-the-counter" - and on which, the Wikan suggests, she terminally overdosed.

I look forward to hearing more.

elokuu 13, 2009, 3:31 pm

Barney was also Vivien's fatal love, but I don't recall that the former wrote in the decadent tradition (Vivien's poetry, and not just her lifestyle, arguably does fit).

Can anyone point out any decadent writings by Barney?

Muokkaaja: elokuu 14, 2009, 1:47 am

I've done some searching. Here is what I've found so far.

Works in translation:

A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney by Natalie Clifford Barney

The One Who is Legion by Natalie Clifford Barney


The Amazon of Letters: The Life and Loves of Natalie Barney by George Wickes

Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney's Journey from victorian America to the Literary Salons of Paris by Suzanne Rodriguez

Adventures of the Mind: The Memoirs of Natalie Clifford Barney by Natalie Clifford Barney

This last title is selling for over 200 usd for a paperback.

This synopsis from abebooks is very intrigueing.

Every Friday, for half a decade beginning in 1909, whenever she was in Paris, Natalie Clifford Barney hosted the one of the most brilliant international salons of its day. Barney received in her home such literary, artistic, musical and intellectual beacons of the 20th century as James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Colette, Isadora Duncan, Auguste Rodin, Romaine Brooks, William Carlos Williams, Paul Valery, Renee Vivian, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Truman Capote. In 1929, she shared her life, in and out of the salon, through the publication of the first of three volumes of reminiscences. Here Barney explores her family tree, chronicles her friendships and associations through reprinted correspondence and recreated conversations, and evokes the golden age of her salon in a gallery of literary portraits. The first half of the volume features a baker's dozen of the male writers she knew, from Oscar Wilde, whom she literally ran into at the age of five, to Pierre Louys, who encouraged her fledgling writing career and Paul Valery, an Immortal in the Academie Francaise. Barney dedicated the latter half of her diary to the Academie des Femmes, which she founded in 1927, as a counterpart to the male bastion of the French Academy. The book preserves the proceedings of meetings between such figures as Lucie Delarue-Mardrus, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes and Mina Loy, in the distinctive voices of their speakers.

I found this Renee Vivien page where someone named Melanie has posted some wonderful translations of her poetry. There are some great photos of Renee Vivien and Natalie Barney too.

This is very exciting. The focus of my library is gender studies. I am currently trying to build a collection of relevant works by women. Renee Vivien and Natalie Barney are obviously essential. Thank you all so much again for the information.

I have ordered these two inexpensive titles by Renee Vivian to get started.

Woman of the Wolf and Other Stories by Renee Vivien

A Woman Appeared to Me by Renee Vivien

elokuu 13, 2009, 11:18 pm

This may be interesting as well:

I have clipped a cartoon somewhere with de Pougy on the arm of Jean Lorrain, snubbing some other belle dame.

elokuu 14, 2009, 5:28 pm


All of that looks like bio and auto-bio (I have that Wickes book, not bad--he knew her personally).

Muokkaaja: elokuu 14, 2009, 6:57 pm

At first I thought The One Who is Legion and A Perilous Advantage were fiction or poetry. But on closer inspection they do appear to be memoirs.

I'll do some more research.

In the meantime, I'm really looking forward to the two Renee Vivien titles I ordered.

50. Unfortunately, Liane de Pougy's Idylle Saphique is fetching 289 usd for a paperback. Copies of her memoir My Blue Notebooks are cheap and plentiful however. I just picked up a copy and a copy of Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney's Journey from victorian America to the Literary Salons of Paris for about a buck a piece. :)

Muokkaaja: elokuu 14, 2009, 8:07 pm

Here are a short list of Spanish American and Spaniards women writers and intellectuals who were related to the Modernismo; in Latin America. Lately, they have been studying the importance of these ladies and their contributions.

Carmen de Burgos (Spain)
Juana Borrero (Cuba)
María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira (Uruguay)
Rafaela Contreras de Darío (Costa Rica) (Ruben Dario's wife)
Aurora Cáceres (Perú) (Enrique Gómez Carrillo's wife)

It was an American scholar, Dr. Evelyn Uhrhan ("Short Stories by Rafaela Contreras" 1976), who discovered 9 poems in prose and short stories writen by Dario's wife in many periodicals. No one knew about these text before.

The other important Modernist female write, in my personal opinion, is Aurora Cáceres. You can find more information in Wikipedia. Here is a short comment:

«She founded "Feminine Evolution" in 1911, in 1919 she organized a feminine strike for food, while in 1924 she organized a new organization, "Peruvian Femenism". She was a die-hard suffragist associated with Angela Ramos. Later she would work with the anti-fascist organization "Feminine Action".»

«Her compelling novel "La rosa muerta", recently published by Stockcero for the first time in almost a century, was set in Paris where it was published in 1914. In a work sharing formal characteristics with modernista prose, Cáceres challenged the ideological parameters of the movement. While her protagonist appropriated the modernista precept of a women as an object of male veneration, she also took active control of her sexual life in a world where husbands still treated their wives as objects. The objects in this novel are not people but implements of communication and medicine reflective of the apogee of the industrial age. The action, which takes place between Berlin and Paris, is representative of the places that the modernistas held dear, but the feminization of the portrayal of male-female relations broadens the scope of the male-dominated modernista literary paradigm. The ideal men in this novel are not the husbands from whom women run, but medical doctors, men of science who are liberated from chauvinist attitudes. The central character of “La rosa muerta” accordingly falls for one of her gynecologists, allowing for scenes in the Paris clinic that must have been scandalous for the 1914 reading public.»

elokuu 14, 2009, 10:46 pm

What about an Italian decadent writer named Amalia Guglielminetti.

Her poetry was influenced by Gabrielle D'Annunzio. She was a feminist and a controversial figure in the Italian society of the Belle Epoque. Very interesting.

elokuu 15, 2009, 10:47 am

That is quite interesting, castel15, I will have to look into it, since I have never heard of Amalia Guglielminetti.

elokuu 15, 2009, 12:54 pm

Yes indeed, thank you Luis and David; I hope you will share everything you know and continue to turn up... I still have a small bit of room in my study and you have made me start a new shopping list.

elokuu 17, 2009, 7:38 pm

I have been checking my list of decadent, decadent-influenced, writers and found this lady: Sylvia Townsend Warner and her partner Valentine Ackland.

elokuu 17, 2009, 8:38 pm

You might be interested in Mercedes de Acosta.

She was born in New York City in 1893 to a Cuban father, Ricardo de Acosta, and a Spanish mother, Micaela Hernandez de Alba y de Alba, reportedly a descendant of the Spanish Dukes of Alba.

She was an American poet, playwright, costume designer and socialite, best known for her numerous lesbian affairs with Hollywood personalities including Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Alla Nazimova, Tamara Karsavina, Eva Le Gallienne, Isadora Duncan, Katharine Cornell, Ona Munson, Adele Astaire and, allegedly, Tallulah Bankhead, amongst others, which she documented in her controversial autobiography Here Lies the Heart...

elokuu 27, 2009, 6:15 pm

elokuu 28, 2009, 10:46 pm

The state of my "shopping cart" these days is such that as I add a book, Amazon deletes one. Luckily, that one is near the top.

syyskuu 9, 2009, 12:42 am

A found a Pre-Raphaelite and/or Decadent Victorian writer named Mathilde Blinde. Her poems are beautiful. She wrote one novel, "Tarantella: A Romance".

Check this link:

syyskuu 10, 2009, 4:01 pm

Here is another British women writer associated with fin-de-siecle new literary trends Ella D'Arcy (1856 - 1939): Monochromes; Modern Instances; Bishop Dilemma.

syyskuu 10, 2009, 10:21 pm

So far I found these names of British women writers affiliated to the fin-de-siecle Aesthetic Movement:
· Ella D'Arcy (1856 - 1939): Monochromes; Modern Instances; Bishop Dilemma.
· Evelyn Sharp (1869 - 1955): Nicolette; The making of a prig; All the way to Fairyland; The other side of the sun.
· Hermione Ramsden (¿? - ¿?): A forgotten novelist.
· Lena Milman (1894 - 1910): Sir Christopher Wren.
· Ménie Muriel Dowie (1867 - 1945): Gallia; The crook of the bough; Love and his mask.
· Nora Hopper Chesson (1871 - 1906): The bell and the arrow.
· Olive Eleanor Custance (1874 - 1944)
· Rosamund Marriot-Watson "Graham R. Tomson" (1860 - 1911): An island Rose.

syyskuu 11, 2009, 7:23 am

Oh goody!!!!!!! More writers to add to my wish list!!

syyskuu 11, 2009, 9:24 am

Olive Custance also had the good fortune of being the wife of Alfred Douglas.

And don't forget George Egerton (Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright)!

heinäkuu 7, 2011, 11:11 am

Perhaps not true fin de siècle Decadence, but Edna W. Underwood's (1873-1961) Dear Dead Women (1911) adheres to the principles of the Decadent movement. Tartarus Press has released an edition of her short stories and one novella. Apparently her novels are virtually impossible to find as the the author of the introduction was unable to locate them.

And just for the record, for those who do not turn up their noses at ebooks, Tartarus has released the works of Sarban both in hard copy and ebook form. Of course a Tartarus ebook cannot match the loveliness of Tartarus hard copies.

heinäkuu 7, 2011, 1:54 pm

The cover of Penguin UK's recent edition of Vernon Lee's The Virgin of the Seven Daggers is worth a look. Apologies if this isn't a link to my catalogue entry for it:

heinäkuu 8, 2011, 8:56 am

If it hasn't been mentioned before: Rachilde

Also: Laure

heinäkuu 27, 2011, 10:11 am

Not a writer per se, but a choreographer:

There seems to be a bit of Artaud and Lautreamont in her work's cruelty.

elokuu 28, 2011, 2:49 pm

An unlikely candidate: Jan Morris, the travel writer. But more for her book Hav, a fictional travelogue of an isolated peninsula that's gone to seed. It's a place that's gone into eclipse, but also reflects the cultures of its former occupiers, including the Russians, the Turks, and the westernmost settlement of China. Not as claustrophobic or as obsessive-compulsive as Against Nature, but exists in the same spirit of decay and neglect.

huhtikuu 27, 2012, 4:13 pm

I would add Djuna Barnes, especially Nightwood, about a group of sexually ambiguous characters who traipse around Europe during the Interwar Years.

huhtikuu 27, 2012, 4:34 pm

How about Mary Maclane?

toukokuu 2, 2012, 7:24 pm

Reading The Antiphon by Djuna Barnes, which Edwin Muir compared to the Orestia. I would definitely calssify Barnes as a decadent, her work equally imbued with aristocratic decay and a languorously erotic severity in its spirituality. Glittery doomed characters balancing between farce and tragedy.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 16, 2012, 4:43 pm

Nightwood is startlingly explicit for its time - I suspect no-one likely to be shocked by it got far enough into the text to be offended.

toukokuu 20, 2012, 6:00 pm

74: That implies the tongue-clucking middlebrow hordes in the American Heartland know how to read in the first place.

toukokuu 21, 2012, 8:28 pm

A very good point. It is no longer necessary to burn books because no one reads them anymore.

toukokuu 21, 2012, 8:38 pm

76: Why burn books when Stephanie Meyer and Fifty Shades of Grey is on all our Kindles, Nooks, and other electronic devices.

Yes, I know this is an ironic stance to take, since I posted it on an Internet message board.

Cue Sideshow Bob on the Jumbotron and "Rock You Like a Hurricane."

toukokuu 21, 2012, 9:18 pm

Well, there are a few nice places and people on the internet, like this group.

I found this great translation of a Zinaida Hippius(Gippius) poem the other day on the Poetry Lovers Page, another nice place on the internet.

The Spiders

My world is like a chamber, narrow, –
It’s very low, very small.
In four its corners sit four fellows –
Four spiders, diligent in all.

They are all fat, adroit, and dirty,
And always spin and spin the web…
And it is awful – their portly,
Monotonous and even step.

With four their webs, when they were ready,
They spun the immense one, at last.
I watch their fat backs’ movement, steady,
In darkness of the stinking dust.

My eyes – under the webbing’s level:
It’s gray, and soft, and sticky, yet.
And they are glad with gladness, evil, --
Four spiders, fat.

- Zinaida Gippius, 1903

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, November, 2000

Which brings us back to decadent women writers and spiders. There was no winter here last winter and there are spiders everywhere. One is on the ceiling overhead watching me with it's ocelli as I type this.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 22, 2012, 4:31 pm

78: Your post (and interesting poem I was unaware of) reminded me of a list I began putting together some while back: Spiders in literature. I scoured the web for an e-version of Jan Gerhard Toonder's story, "The Spider" (In brief, a young wife complains to her increasingly distant husband that she cannot rest when he is gone because she is harassed by a black spider that darts around the house. The spider seems larger with each sighting. The story becomes progressively nightmarish, and I won't spoil it by giving any more detail). The story was initially published in translation in The Paris Review in 1961 and can also be found in the anthologies The Naked I: Fictions for the Seventies and Open at Your Own Risk. I don't believe Toonder was among the authors included in Dedalus's anthology of Dutch Fantasy.

Other examples are more well known (in this group, at least): Jeremias Gotthelf's The Black Spider, Hanns Heinz Ewers' "The Spider", Delphi Fabrice's L'Araignée Rouge, Anton Koolhaas' "Baldur D. Quorg, Spider" (in the Dedalus anthology), William Sansom's "Pansovic and the spiders", Erckmann and Chatrian's "The Crab Spider", Basil Copper's "The Spider", William J. Wintle's The Spectre Spiders, M.R. James' The Ash-Tree, Rachilde's The Crystal Spider (, H. G. Wells' "The Valley of the Spiders", Algernon Blackwood's "Along Came A Spider", Richard MacGregor's "The Spider Man"etc.

Here is a link to "The Spectre Spiders":

And The Valley of the Spiders:

toukokuu 22, 2012, 1:18 pm

Not what you're looking for, but I'm reminded of this stanza from Baudelaire's Spleen IV:

"When the rain stretching out its endless train
Imitates the bars of a vast prison
And a silent horde of loathsome spiders
Comes to spin their webs in the depths of our brains"

toukokuu 28, 2012, 3:14 pm

80. Many thanks for the list and links. I'll be reading spider stories this afternoon with my spider friends, who are still lurking about. Daddy long legs are everywhere. I find them very decorative.

kesäkuu 1, 2012, 1:41 pm

80. Have you consulted this?

Spider-Spun Tales: a Bibliography of Spiders in Literature and the Visual Arts:

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 27, 2012, 10:32 am

I think Judith Gautier is one of my favourites. Her poetry is very decadent & perverse. I wonder what Dagny Juel's poetry is like.

elokuu 19, 2012, 11:29 am

By Lord de Tabley:

The Study of a Spider

From holy flower to holy flower
thou weavest thine unhallowed bower.
The harmless dewdrops, deaded thin,
Ripple along thy ropes of sin.
Thy house a grave, a gulf thy throne
Affright the fairies every one.
Thy winding sheets are gray and fell,
Imprisoning with nets of hell
The lovely births that winnow by,
Winged sisters of the rainbow sky.
Elf-darlings, fluffy, bee-bright things,
And owl-white moths with mealy wings,
And tiny flies, as gauzy thin
As e'er were shut electrum in.
These are thy death spoils, insect ghoul,
With their dear life your fangs are foul.
Thou felon anchorite of pain
Who sittest in a world of slain.
Hermit, who tunest song unsweet
To heaving wind and writhing feet.
A glutton of creation's sighs,
Miser of many miseries.
Toper, whose lonely feasting chair
Sways in inhospitable air.
The board is bare, the bloated host
Drinks to himself toast after toast.
His lips require no goblet brink
But like a weasel he must drink.
The vintage is as old as time
And bright as sunset, pressed and prime.
Ah, venom mouth and shaggy thighs
And paunch grown sleek with sacrifice,
Thy dolphin back and shoulders round
Coarse-hairy, as some goblin hound
Whom a hag rides to sabbath on,
While shuddering stars in fear grow wan.
Thou palace priest of treachery,
Thou type of selfish lechery,
I break the toils around thy head
And from their gibbets take thy dead.

elokuu 19, 2012, 5:26 pm

85. A very nice spider poem indeed. I've never heard of Lord de Tabley before. I found a download of his Collected Poems here.

86. I love everything I've read by Judith Gautier. If you haven't run across it yet, check out the play she wrote with Pierre Loti called The Daughter of Heaven.

kesäkuu 30, 2013, 2:06 pm

Can we put Joyce Carol Oates in the category of "decadent woman writer"? I'm thinking of Bellefleur and related "Gothic Saga" books:

"Joyce Carol Oates has always been, for those who look closely, a religious novelist, but this is the most openly religious of her books--not that she argues any one sectarian point of view. Here as in several of her earlier works the Angel of Death is an important figure, but here for the first time the Angel of Life (not simply resignation) is the winner. In the novel's final chapters Gideon Bellefleur turns his back on all he has been since birth, a sensualist; starves himself until we see him as a death figure; finally becomes his family's Angel of Death."

heinäkuu 15, 2013, 12:35 am

Only peripherally related, but Oates has a great piece on Derek Raymond.

helmikuu 16, 2014, 3:09 am

I can't believe I've never posted here or read this thread! I've been thinking about putting together a blog on the subject so some of the recommendations here are incredibly helpful.

To the people looking for Vernon Lee's Hauntings for relatively cheap, there's an edition by Broadview Press. It wasn't very expensive when I got it. I generally like their editions, especially because they usually include an appendix of other texts that are often very interesting. This edition features all the stories from Hauntings and a few more.

helmikuu 16, 2014, 8:23 am

A Surrealist, rather than a Decadent, but the poetry of Joyce Mansour is packed with black humor, eroticism and Gothic imagery and may appeal to many here. Essential Poems and Writings of Joyce Mansour is a fine collection from Black Widow.

helmikuu 16, 2014, 11:31 am

89. Broadview Press is great as is Hauntings. If you haven't already, also pick up the Penguin Red Classics edition of The Virgin of the Seven Daggers. The stories are just wonderful. I love Vernon Lee.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 16, 2014, 6:55 pm

Of some relevance. Wonderfully illustrated by Santiago Caruso:

helmikuu 16, 2014, 8:50 pm

I've been trying to promote Caruso for some time now! Check out his websites:

helmikuu 17, 2014, 1:08 pm

Wow! Many thanks. Extraordinary images, some of them remind me of Alfred Kubin's illustrations.

helmikuu 17, 2014, 1:27 pm


Yes, don't they! He seems to draw on many sources, from medieval through Arcimboldo to Surrealism and the way he puts them together rises much above mere collage.

He's looking for three pupils to help him maintain the cost of a studio, if anyone feels like moving to Buenos Aires for kicks and art!

helmikuu 17, 2014, 5:30 pm

- 93: So have I. He's my pal on FB - which I seldom visit save to see what distant and or virtual friends such as he are up to. I'd love to make it to one of his shows - and just Argentina in general.

helmikuu 17, 2014, 9:00 pm

I believe that the contents of that edition of The Virgin of the Seven Daggers are already included in other volumes I own (the edition of Hauntings by Broadview Press, the Leonaur books that include several of her short stories and novellas between two volumes) but thanks for reminding me that I need to get it anyway!

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 18, 2014, 8:04 pm

I should have checked first, I see the only story in The Virgin of the Seven Daggers that isn't included in Hauntings is The Legend of Madame Krasinska.

I didn't know about the Leonaur books. I will seek them out.

helmikuu 18, 2014, 9:30 pm

Leonaur has republished quite a lot of 19th supernatural material - LeFanu, Morrow, M.R. Jmaes, Bierce and others:

I've grabbed several.

huhtikuu 14, 2014, 11:55 pm

Has Elizabeth Taylor been mentioned? (Not the actress.) Her novel Angel shows inklings towards decadence:

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 22, 2016, 11:50 am

I thought I'd dig this one out suspense to call to notice An Anthology of Nineteenth-Century Women's Poetry from France - bilingual edition, containing a good many of the sort we celebrate here. Many names unfamiliar and otherwise, some in English for the first time.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 22, 2016, 11:53 am

I will also add here, as I have elsewhere, that Samantha Pious 's recent translation of A Crown of Violets, a slim volume of Renée Vivien's poetry, is quite well done and worth a read.

kesäkuu 14, 2017, 9:17 pm

Oxford University Press will soon reissue a more affordable and available edition of Satanic Feminism by Swedish academic Per Faxneld: providing a satanistic perspective of numerous 19th C. women artists including decadents Renée Vivien, Luisa Casati, etc.

kesäkuu 14, 2017, 9:34 pm

Nice, thank you.

The author is a dandy:

heinäkuu 15, 2017, 10:40 am

"Daughters of decadence: the New Woman in the Victorian fin de siècle":

huhtikuu 10, 2018, 3:15 pm

Georges Lewys may belong here as a somewhat Decadent cum Modernist American author working in Hollywood during the inter-war period. Her novel Merry-Go-Round is more than a little reminiscent of Arthur Schnitzler's work. Apparently the USPS banned or tried to ban much of her privately published work from the mails for what was considered obscene in the 1920s and '30s.

huhtikuu 11, 2018, 9:14 am

A translated collection of stories by Franziska zu Reventlow, The Guesthouse at the Sign of the Teetering Globe is available from Berlin based Rixdorf Editions (along with Wakefield Press, my favorite small press). Rixdorf is developing an interesting catalog.

huhtikuu 12, 2018, 9:13 am

Also of note, Peter Owen has published a new hardcover edition of Ithell Colquhoun's Goose of Hermogenes. This edition contains artwork the author had intended to be included in the original publication. I don't know if the book is available for sale in the US yet, but you can go through a UK dealer.

Yesterday, incidentally, was the 30th anniversary of Colquhoun's death.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 20, 2018, 8:17 pm

>107 Randy_Hierodule: At first glance, the cover of Franziska's older bro Ernst's The Vampire of the Continent (1916) seems to promise some decadent reading enjoyment. In actuality the book's a brutally vicious anti-British diatribe intended to sway American sympathies against Britain during WW1. Ernst zu Reventlow went on to represent the more militantly Communist wing of the Nazi party.

huhtikuu 20, 2018, 10:49 pm

Yes, I saw that somewhere. I thought Ernst was just a blatant nazi.

huhtikuu 20, 2018, 11:07 pm

Communist wing of the Nazi party

The sort of thing the Nazi wing of American conservatives thinks is witty...

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 22, 2018, 2:41 pm

Ah, I thought it was a one too many late night slip up. Well, may they all hang.

huhtikuu 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

-111, 112

Whoa!...have I offended by associating any Socialist construct within Nazism? Is that not allowed? I simply tried to convey (no witticism intended) what near nothing I know of E. zu R., all of which comes from his Wikipedia bio and not personal opinion. There it's said that he came to the Nazis in alignment with Gregor Strasser, "... (who) favored genuine socialistic measures and an alliance with the Soviets against the western democracies" and who was later purged in the Night of the Long Knives. Somehow (perhaps because of his pre-Nazi status as an ultra-patriotic socialist worker's hero) Reventlow survived purging despite his potential political enemy status within the party.

If you have inferred a political compass and nationality based simply on my earlier comment, I'm sorry...or have I made too much of this?

huhtikuu 23, 2018, 9:38 am

Personally, was being flippant - seriousness is a bother (for me, here, at any length). Apologies from this angle to have perhaps offended.

huhtikuu 23, 2018, 2:02 pm

>113 vaniamk13:

To talk about a "Communist wing" in a party that murdered Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht--actual founders of the KPD--is not just bizarre ("inaccurate" doesn't cover it, given the interactions of the two parties, or the Nazis vis-à-vis the left in general) but grossly indecent. The very first victims of Nazism were Communists, proportionally also the most numerous.

As for ideological "socialist constructs" in the NSDAP, the Nazis were "socialist" like freemasons are bricklayers--not really and not very. Do we need basic reminders that poaching terminology and outright false advertising are common as dirt in politics as in business, or what Nazi anti-capitalism amounted to (hint: it's something to do with the Jews)? There are many good histories that put the party in context, explain its ideology and development.

And lest anyone get the impression from the mentions in the post above that Hitler got rid of some "socialist" Nazis, I recommend a book that looks specifically at how Nazism was shaped and carried by the SA--Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler's Brownshirts.

TL; DR--no one ever joined the Nazis because of the "socialist" in their name.

huhtikuu 23, 2018, 2:05 pm

>114 Randy_Hierodule:

Apologies for all the digressions. It's my allergies--Spring is here, and oh look, blooming fachos everywhere!

I'll get something for it. ;)

huhtikuu 23, 2018, 10:22 pm

>115 LolaWalser:

I know this certainly isn't the forum for this discussion, so I'll leave it alone after this and promise no return to subject...lest I be hung.

Of course my "indecent" statement in -109 "doesn't cover it", precisely because it can't be covered here. I was giving an exceedingly brief (read lazy) synopsis of a Wikipedia bio and ought not be expected to provide a nuanced elaboration on how, despite the Wiki article's implications, no would-be Nazis could ever, even remotely, have been proper socialists as defined by prevailing orthodoxy. Beyond this, and without having read the Stormtroopers book ref'd., I completely concur with your view that Nazis, incl. their pre-purge adherents and sympathizers, were near unanimously violent anti-Marxist, anti-"Gypsy", anti-homosexual, anti-religious minority, anti-intellectual, anti-democratic, anti-Slav, anti-Semitic, ..., self-loathing supremacists whose misguided efforts decimated more than just Europe.

It's a too long story, but my then pre-teen/teenaged father along with his parents and siblings, survived Nazi annexation of their property and nationality throughout the war. I grew up hearing, and was perhaps negatively affected by, countless, usually gruesome, stories of Nazi atrocities, and the many exceedingly traumatic situations caused by them. From this second hand experience, I'm profoundly aware of what the Nazis were in actuality. At one time I held ingrained anti-German (albeit mild) biases. Travel, literature and life itself have mostly adjusted these views.

You've apparently embraced a militant absolutist (or protectionist?) view of what it can ever mean to be a "Communist". Your views seem at odds with some of the Wiki articles you caused me to review because of your accusation. Articles on Reventlow, Strasserism, National Bolshevism, Black Front, "Beefsteak Nazis", etc. Unfortunately, I'm dependent on those articles since my knowledge on the specifics is superficial at best. Yours seems not to be. Regardless... it's possible I was overly brash in using the C word, and for that I apologize to you and any offended.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 24, 2018, 8:50 am

Is now a good time to serve the Kool-Aid?

huhtikuu 24, 2018, 12:54 pm

Snoggling Books has several titles by Jane de La Vaudère and Renée Vivien listed as forthcoming adaptations:

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 24, 2018, 9:38 pm

It's been implied in some quarters that de La Vaudère plagiarized much of her work from the likes of Flaubert and Maupassant. Otherwise I'm really looking forward to reading these first time in English translations.

huhtikuu 30, 2018, 10:10 pm

115: Also check out Stormtrooper Families by Andrew Wackerfuss, which delves into the sexual derangement and moral confusion of the alleged saviors of European Christianity. Wackerfuss also has a useful epilogue exploring the current disinformation campaign among Christian conservatives to use the old chestnut "The Nazis were teh gayz!" to sponsor murderously homophobic legislation in places like Uganda.

syyskuu 18, 2018, 10:47 pm

Reading the Vaudère book now. :)

huhtikuu 4, 2020, 6:25 pm

Amazon's virtually been trying to give away copies of Vaudère's The Mystery of Kama and Brahma's Courtesans for months now. Is it their algorithms?

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 27, 6:43 pm

If anyone has been looking for a copy (not held by the slimy Amazon grifters) of LETTERS, DREAMS & OTHER WRITINGS by Remedios Varo, Wakefield Press says they will be publishing an expanded 2nd edition Spring of 2024.

You can catch a glimpse of books by Varo and Leonora Carrington on the shelves in A Wounded Fawn. (Go! Go! Alekto!):

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