Category Archives: Decadence

From the cradle to the grave

“Sleep on, my poor child, sleep;/Why must thou wake again?/Thou art but born into a world of woe,/Of agony, unending, deep,/Of long-protracted pain…”

From the cradle to the grave

“Sleep on, my poor child, sleep;/Why must thou wake again?/Thou art but born into a world of woe,/Of agony, unending, deep,/Of long-protracted pain…”

Madame wishes…?

“Then, as the key was in the door, she entered, but the smell of apples cooking choked her and stopped her short on the threshold. No smell was more odious to her than that of apples, and so it was with a shiver of disgust that she examined the garret before revealing her presence.”

Madame wishes…?

“Then, as the key was in the door, she entered, but the smell of apples cooking choked her and stopped her short on the threshold. No smell was more odious to her than that of apples, and so it was with a shiver of disgust that she examined the garret before revealing her presence.”

Places: Under the Hill

More Adey was a Catholic convert, a friend of Oscar Wilde with rarefied tastes in arts and letters, but he was at once more scholarly and less flamboyant than most of the Wilde bunch he rolled with.

Places: Under the Hill

More Adey was a Catholic convert, a friend of Oscar Wilde with rarefied tastes in arts and letters, but he was at once more scholarly and less flamboyant than most of the Wilde bunch he rolled with.

Looking ahead

A look ahead at some volumes of interest scheduled to appear in 2012, including works by or about Joseph Roth, Anita Berber & Sebastian Droste, Aleister Crowley, Isabelle Eberhardt, Ronald Firbank, M.P. Shiel and Count Eric Stenbock, as well as a biography of Herbert Huncke.

Looking ahead

A look ahead at some volumes of interest scheduled to appear in 2012, including works by or about Joseph Roth, Anita Berber & Sebastian Droste, Aleister Crowley, Isabelle Eberhardt, Ronald Firbank, M.P. Shiel and Count Eric Stenbock, as well as a biography of Herbert Huncke.

Catching up

Body Sweats, a collection of writings by Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, is a capital B capital D Big Deal in the shadow world of Strange Flowers. I’ve leafed through 2011’s back pages to see what else I’ve missed (or in some cases, forgotten) of the year’s books.

Catching up

Body Sweats, a collection of writings by Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, is a capital B capital D Big Deal in the shadow world of Strange Flowers. I’ve leafed through 2011’s back pages to see what else I’ve missed (or in some cases, forgotten) of the year’s books.

Places: Vittoriale degli italiani

Mussolini cribbed much of his style and many of his tactics from the older man but was disinclined to have the dangerously charismatic war hero around to challenge his authority. Il Vittoriale was generously-funded busy work for d’Annunzio, an al fresco manifestation of the creation myths of totalitarianism.

Places: Vittoriale degli italiani

Mussolini cribbed much of his style and many of his tactics from the older man but was disinclined to have the dangerously charismatic war hero around to challenge his authority. Il Vittoriale was generously-funded busy work for d’Annunzio, an al fresco manifestation of the creation myths of totalitarianism.

Death of a shrinking violet

There are those who turn their lives into their greatest work. Theodore Wratislaw was not among them. It wasn’t premature death, prison or drugs which claimed Wratislaw after his last volume of verse in 1896. It was the civil service…

Death of a shrinking violet

There are those who turn their lives into their greatest work. Theodore Wratislaw was not among them. It wasn’t premature death, prison or drugs which claimed Wratislaw after his last volume of verse in 1896. It was the civil service…

Sodom’s ambassador to Paris

Jean Lorrain was a master of fin-de-siècle snark, using both novels and articles to take down many of the public figures of his day. He had – to quote Ann Widdecombe (four words I never thought I’d type) – “something of the night” about him.

Sodom’s ambassador to Paris

Jean Lorrain was a master of fin-de-siècle snark, using both novels and articles to take down many of the public figures of his day. He had – to quote Ann Widdecombe (four words I never thought I’d type) – “something of the night” about him.

Nazimova’s secret garden

Nazimova enlisted designer Natacha Rambova, wife of Rudolph Valentino. Sets and costumes borrowed liberally from Beardsley’s illustrations, with a riot of dwarves, drag queens, half-naked slaves and camp courtiers in extravagant headpieces.

Nazimova’s secret garden

Nazimova enlisted designer Natacha Rambova, wife of Rudolph Valentino. Sets and costumes borrowed liberally from Beardsley’s illustrations, with a riot of dwarves, drag queens, half-naked slaves and camp courtiers in extravagant headpieces.

Strange Flowers guide to London: part 3

The choice of blue plaque honourees is leadenly conservative and sometimes bafflingly perverse, celebrating lesser colonial administrators known only to their mothers. Or it may be that current residents would rather not have their homes associated with drunks, deviants and diabolists.

Strange Flowers guide to London: part 3

The choice of blue plaque honourees is leadenly conservative and sometimes bafflingly perverse, celebrating lesser colonial administrators known only to their mothers. Or it may be that current residents would rather not have their homes associated with drunks, deviants and diabolists.

Strange Flowers guide to London: part 1

There are infinite ways to dissect London, endless psychogeographical narratives which can be overlaid on the city’s map. This is an account of absence as much as presence, but let’s think of it as a stroll which gives us a chance to chat about our favourite freaks.

Strange Flowers guide to London: part 1

There are infinite ways to dissect London, endless psychogeographical narratives which can be overlaid on the city’s map. This is an account of absence as much as presence, but let’s think of it as a stroll which gives us a chance to chat about our favourite freaks.

Rex Luna

Both Ludwig and Sissi took the abstractions of Romanticism and not only made them reality but practised them at the level of an extreme sport. In so doing they inspired the Decadent writers who furthered the Romantics’ cult of self.

Rex Luna

Both Ludwig and Sissi took the abstractions of Romanticism and not only made them reality but practised them at the level of an extreme sport. In so doing they inspired the Decadent writers who furthered the Romantics’ cult of self.

La Marquise de Sade

Mathilde de Morny’s scandalous life and aristocratic background proved an irresistible combination for contemporary writers; she appears thinly disguised in numerous works of fiction, though often the portrayal owed more to the author’s projection than the marquise herself.

La Marquise de Sade

Mathilde de Morny’s scandalous life and aristocratic background proved an irresistible combination for contemporary writers; she appears thinly disguised in numerous works of fiction, though often the portrayal owed more to the author’s projection than the marquise herself.

“Scholar, connoisseur, drunkard, poet, pervert…”

The count’s bedroom featured a pentagram over the bed, and there he would smoke opium and play piano late into the night, emerging the next day – late, naturally – in a dressing gown with a snake wrapped around his neck.

“Scholar, connoisseur, drunkard, poet, pervert…”

The count’s bedroom featured a pentagram over the bed, and there he would smoke opium and play piano late into the night, emerging the next day – late, naturally – in a dressing gown with a snake wrapped around his neck.

Dress-down Friday: Jules Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly

There are few names as evocative as Jules Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly – I feel 12% more sophisticated just typing it out. One of those names like Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam which seem to exist in their own perfumed cloud of posh, too archaic, too evanescent for an industrialised world.

Dress-down Friday: Jules Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly

There are few names as evocative as Jules Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly – I feel 12% more sophisticated just typing it out. One of those names like Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam which seem to exist in their own perfumed cloud of posh, too archaic, too evanescent for an industrialised world.

A sâr is born

Joséphin Péladan was a keen self-publicist, describing himself as “the sandwich man of the Beyond”, and the opening night of the Salon des Rose+Croix in 1892 was mobbed by punters just as keen to lay eyes on the extraordinary “Sâr” as the work of such artists as Jean Delville.

A sâr is born

Joséphin Péladan was a keen self-publicist, describing himself as “the sandwich man of the Beyond”, and the opening night of the Salon des Rose+Croix in 1892 was mobbed by punters just as keen to lay eyes on the extraordinary “Sâr” as the work of such artists as Jean Delville.

Gray gardens

My garden’s face is oh! so maidly fair,/With limbs all tapering and with hues all fresh;/Thine are the beauties all that flourish there.

Gray gardens

My garden’s face is oh! so maidly fair,/With limbs all tapering and with hues all fresh;/Thine are the beauties all that flourish there.

The King of Redonda

M.P. Shiel is the unlikely answer to an improbable question: what links 1890s Decadence with 20th century science fiction? The answer is a West Indian who moved in Bohemian circles in London and claimed kingship of a guano-rich Caribbean outcrop.

The King of Redonda

M.P. Shiel is the unlikely answer to an improbable question: what links 1890s Decadence with 20th century science fiction? The answer is a West Indian who moved in Bohemian circles in London and claimed kingship of a guano-rich Caribbean outcrop.

Venus as a boy

Though her business card proclaimed her a “man of letters”, Rachilde was the only female author of note among the Decadents but arguably the one who pushed their preoccupation with gender meddling the furthest.

Venus as a boy

Though her business card proclaimed her a “man of letters”, Rachilde was the only female author of note among the Decadents but arguably the one who pushed their preoccupation with gender meddling the furthest.

Flop, plop.

A Tragedy, some think, is the worst poem ever written. Certainly the words “Flop, plop” seem somehow unequal to the theme of accidental death. But the worst poem ever? Please, Jewel could write worse crap than this before breakfast.

Flop, plop.

A Tragedy, some think, is the worst poem ever written. Certainly the words “Flop, plop” seem somehow unequal to the theme of accidental death. But the worst poem ever? Please, Jewel could write worse crap than this before breakfast.