fin de siècle relating to or characteristic of the end of a century, especially the 19th century.
zeitgeist - the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.
the decadent movement -a late 19th-century artistic and literary movement, centered in Western Europe, that followed an aesthetic ideology of excess and artificiality The movement was characterized by self-disgust, sickness at the world, general skepticism, delight in perversion and employment of crude humor and a belief in the superiority of human creativity over logic and the natural world
As part of my train reading, I have been reading Holbrook Jackson's The Eighteen Nineties. First printed in 1913 and then reprinted multiple times, my copy is a 1950 Pelican reprint, the book explores art and literature at the climax of the Victorian period in England.
Aubrey Beardsley, The climax, 1893. Beardsley's art became a symbol of the decadence movement.Holbrook's book reminded me of how little I know or, worse perhaps, how much I had forgotten! I had to look fin de siècle up to remind myself. I knew the English decadents such as Oscar Wilde or Aubrey Beardsley by their work, but not by their attributed school.
In some ways, both the decadents and fin de siècle reminded me of today. There is the same weariness with change, the rejection of established values without necessarily having an alternative. There is also, and this may well be different, a view that life itself becomes art. To Holbrook's mind, Wilde's distinction lies not in his writing but in his life as an art form. As Holbrook draws out, society was already striking, back re-asserting conventional norms.
Perhaps more importantly, we know and they did not ,that huge war is coming. That blew away so much.
A Decadent Girl, by Ramón Casas, 1899. She looks just so tired or out in a drunken stupor!I have much to absorb from Holbrook's book.Among other things, I want to extend that piece I wrote Reflections on the art of flânerie.
This is the entry point for the Monday Forum. I leave it in your hands where you go from here!
It's all a matter of zeitgeist!