Degeneration and decadence
One issue in the study of mental illness labeling is how the features
of mental illness labels are related to labels of disease and of crime
and deviance. Psychiatrists typically consider mental illness to share
the major characteristics of disease, while sociologists are more
likely to regard mental illness as behavior that violates social norms.
While mental illness labeling is related in certain ways to labels of
both disease and deviance, it is greatly different from both of these
categories. It is most appropriate to regard
By the first decade of the twentieth century, Russia was experiencing a decadent period of cultural degeneration. Simultaneous with this artistic response, science was developing ways to identify medical conditions that supposedly reflected the health of the entire nation. Leonid Andreev (1871–1919), the leading literary figure of his time, stepped into the breech of this scientific discourse with literary works about degenerates. The spirited social debates on mental illness, morality and sexual deviance which resulted from these works became part of the ongoing battle over the definition and depiction of the irrational, complicated by Andreev’s own publicized bouts with neurasthenia. Specific to the study is the way in which Andreev readily accepted and incorporated scientific conjecture into his cultural production and how these works were in turn cited by medical authorities as confirmation of their theories, creating a circular argument. This book demonstrates the implications of scientific discourse on Russian concepts of mental illness and national health. It examines the concept of pathology in Russia, the influence of European medical discourse, the development of Russian psychiatry, and the role that it had on popular culture by investigating the life and works of Andreev. Although widely discussed in its European context, degeneration theory has not been afforded the same scholarly attention in Russian cultural studies. As a result, this study extends and challenges scholarship on the Russian fin de siècle, the emergence of psychiatry as a new medical science, and the role that art played in the development of this objective science.
Charles Ricketts, Charles Shannon and the Wilde factor
which tarnishes Baudrillard’s understanding of collecting. The sexual nature of collecting is not particular to postmodern thought, but harkens back to nineteenth-century men like Nordau who asserted that collecting was endemic to the decadence that characterized the end of the century. Nordau claimed that ‘[t]he present rage for collecting, the piling up of dwellings, of aimless bric-à-brac … has established an irresistible desire among degenerates to accumulate useless trifles’. 84 In Nordau’s scheme degeneration and collecting went hand in hand and marked a
Becoming-Fungus in Arthur Machen‘s The Hill of Dreams
This paper examines the role fungi play in Arthur Machen‘s Decadent classic The Hill of Dreams (1907), a supernatural novel written in the 1890s. Ostensibly an idiosyncratic topic, the novels concern with these organisms devolves on an inquiry into the nature of life itself, of whether it is the result of a spiritual life-force or a haphazard assemblage of matter. In this way, Machen‘s novel participates in the fin de siècle debates between vitalism and materialism. Rather than attempting to resolve this debate, the novel seizes on tensions inherent in fungal life in order to dissolve the concept of life altogether, to suggest its horrifying unreality.
This book carefully considers the myriad and complex relationships between queer male masculinity and interior design, material culture and aesthetics in Britain between 1885 and 1957 - that is bachelors of a different sort - through rich, well-chosen case studies. It pays close attention to particular homes and domestic interiors of Lord Ronald Gower, Alfred Taylor, Oscar Wilde, Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts, Edward Perry Warren and John Marshall, Sir Cedric Morris and Arthur Lett-Haines, Noel Coward and Cecil Beaton. The book underscores the discursive history and conceptual parameters of the bachelor as these collided with queer sexualities through social and cultural perceptions. It focuses on the seven deadly sins of the modern bachelor: queerness, idolatry, decadence, askesis, decoration, glamour, and finally, artifice. The seven deadly sins of the modern bachelor comprise a contested site freighted with contradiction, vacillating between and revealing the fraught and distinctly queer twining of shame and resistance. Together the furniture and collections that filled Gower's Windsor home compel us to search out the narratives that bric-a-brac at once enliven and expose well beyond the shadows of the endless and meaningless accumulation that late Victorians were said to been have afflicted by.
luxurious and feeble. The military man gains the civil power in
proportion as the civilian loses the military virtues. And as it was in ancient
Rome so it is in contemporary Europe. There never was a time when nations
were more militarist. There never was a time when men were less brave.
All ages and all epics have sung of arms and the man; but we have effected
simultaneously the deterioration of the man and the fantastic perfection of
the arms. Militarism demonstrated the decadence of Rome, and it demonstrates the decadence of Prussia.
And unconsciously, Mr Kipling has
productivist culture in the creation of new experiences
through artifice and experimentation. A large number of the bourgeoisie
itself was looking to be surprised, shocked – entertained, basically – and
the cultivation of the unnatural promised them fresh, exciting sensations
and realms of being. Thus despite their common association with elitism
and exclusiveness, decadence and aestheticism developed in part as products reflecting the escapist wishes of the dominant middle class.6
The aggressively capitalist economy of the 1890s fuelled this escapism,
despite the decadent
Ancient Egypt in the aesthetic and decadent imaginary
course of their respective studies of nineteenth-century British reception of Egypt, neither considers the complex responses of the wider movements of aestheticism and decadence explicitly.
But while it is no doubt the case that, broadly speaking, the classical ideal remained central to the aesthetic imaginary, this chapter demonstrates that the seemingly marginal topic of ancient Egypt retained a significant role in aesthetic literature. In what follows, I locate three interrelated discursive deployments of ancient
In the fascist mind Bloomsbury ‘intellectualism’, together with changing trends in leisure and sexual behaviour, as we saw in the previous chapter, were decadent phenomena which heralded the dissolution of culture. However, in the view of many of Britain’s fascists between the wars, the supreme paradigm of decadence and the ultimate symbol of the destruction of culture in the modern age was the city. Indeed, the modern city stood accused of having spawned many of the decadent habits and practices which were thought to be afflicting the postwar world. In the
realism and appealed strongly
to Depression-era spectators as an antidote to France’s perceived
Pagnol was of course not the first filmmaker to shoot extensively on
location in the countryside. By the 1910s a number of European directors
were already experimenting with real landscapes and natural light to enhance
the authenticity, visual depth, and psychological intensity of their work