Saturday, December 10, 2016

Saturday Morning Musings - the dark side of the Belle Époque

I have always liked Aubrey Beardsley's art work. This is a 1893 piece, The Climax, based on the story of Salome and John the Baptist. My liking dates from a particular period in my life that has become enshrouded in a certain nostalgia, if with an equal recognition of  just how young we all were!

I mention this now because of a very interesting BBC article by Fisun Güner, The dark side of the Belle Époque. The Belle Époque period of Western European history is usually dated from the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the start of World War. The period was named in retrospect, a golden age highlighted by and ended by the slaughter in the trenches.

While it was a golden age, Güner draws out its darker side characterised by some of the art of Fin de siècle, a French term that means the end of the century. There was a feeling of decadence, of despair, of things not right.  For some, things had to be torn down to be rebuilt,.for others, social order had to be preserved. For most, there was the excitement of the new, of progress. All this took place against a background of social Darwinism whose deep poison was working its way through intellectual and political life.

I leave you to read Güner's piece. I hope that you find it interesting.  

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