Cover image for The decadent reader : fiction, fantasy, and perversion from fin-de-siècle France
The decadent reader : fiction, fantasy, and perversion from fin-de-siècle France
Hustvedt, Asti.
Publication Information:
New York : Zone Books, 1998.
Physical Description:
1088 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"Zone readers"--P. facing t.p.
Les Diaboliques / Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly -- Monsieur Vénus / Rachilde -- A haven / J.-K. Huysmans -- The future Eve / Villiers de I'sle-Adam -- La Faënza / Jean Moréas -- Selections / Guy de Maupassant -- Selections / Catulle Mendès -- The ritual of love / Joséphin Péladan -- Selections / Jean Lorrain -- Selections / Remy de Gourmont -- Selections / Octave Mirbeau -- Selections from Saint Lydwine of Schiedam / J.-K. Huysmans.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ1276.D34 D43 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In France at the end of the nineteenth century, progress and material prosperity coincided with widespread alarm about disease and decay. The obsessions of our own culture as the twentieth century came to a close resonate strikingly with those of the last fin-de-siecle: crime, pollution, sexually transmitted diseases, gender confusion, moral depravity, alcoholism, and tobacco and drug use were topics of popular discussion then as now. The Decadent Readeris a collection of novels and stories from fin-de-siecle France that celebrate decline, aestheticize decay, and take pleasure in perversity. By embracing the marginal, the unhealthy, and the deviant, the decadent writers attacked bourgeois life, which they perceived to be the chief enemy of art. Barbey d'Aurevilly, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Jean Lorrain, Guy de Maupassant, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Catulle Mendes, Rachilde, Jean Moreas, Octave Mirbeau, Josephin Peladan, and Remy de Gourmont looted the riches of their culture for their own purposes. In an age of medicine, they borrowed its occult mysteries rather than its positivism. From its social Darwinism, they found their monsters: sadists, murderers, transvestites, fetishists, prostitutes, nymphomaniacs, and hysterics. And they reveled in them, completely upending the conventions of romance and sentimentality. The Decadent Reader, which includes critical essays on all of the authors, many novels and stories that have never before appeared in English, and familiar works set in a new context, offers a compelling portrait of fin-de-siecle France.

Author Notes

Henry-René-Albert-Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850 in France. He was schooled at a seminary in Yvetot and Le Harve. He fought in the Franco-German War, then held civil service posts with the Ministry of the Navy and the Ministry of Public Instruction. He also worked with Gustave Flaubert, who helped him develop his writing talent and introduced him to many literary greats.

During his lifetime, he wrote six novels, three travel books, one book of verse, and over 300 short stories. He is considered one of the fathers of the modern short story. His works include The Necklace, A Piece of String, Mademoiselle Fifi, Miss Harriet, My Uncle Jules, Found on a Drowned Man, and The Wreck.

He suffered from mental illness in his later years and attempted suicide on January 2, 1892. He was committed to a private asylum in Paris, where he died on July 6, 1893.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

The end of the 20th century has renewed an interest in the end of the 19th century, in particular the aesthetes and fin-de-siècle writers of France who influenced writers like Oscar Wilde and pointed toward modernists such as James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot. Coined by Baudelaire to describe Edgar Allan Poe, Decadence represented an aesthetic/aristocratic attack on bourgeois culture, exploring themes of art, deviance, perversion, and marginalization. Editor Hustvedt has collected translations of 12 short novels or selections by Barbey d'Aurevilly, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Remy de Gourmont, and six others. Each selection includes an introduction by the translator. Hustvedt has performed a valuable service by providing this rich assortment of materials not otherwise readily available. Recommended for public and academic libraries.‘T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Asti HustvedtPeter Brooks and Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly and Monsieur Venus
Introductionp. 10
Les Diaboliquesp. 31
Introductionp. 239
IntroductionJanet Beizer and Rachilde
A Havenp. 367
IntroductionCharles Bernheimer and J.-K. Huysmans
The Future Evep. 497
IntroductionAsti Hustvedt and Villiers de l'Isle-Adam
La Faenzap. 751
IntroductionFrancois Meltzer and Jean Moreas
Selectionsp. 773
IntroductionPhillipe Lejeune and Guy de Maupassant
Selectionsp. 815
IntroductionBarbara Spackman and Catulle Mendes
The Ritual of Lovep. 841
IntroductionJennifer Birkett and Josephin Peladan
Selectionsp. 879
IntroductionJennifer Birkett and Jean Lorrain
Selectionsp. 925
IntroductionJennifer Birkett and Remy de Gourmont
Selectionsp. 961
IntroductionEmily Apter and Octave Mirbeau
Selections from Saint Lydwine of Schiedamp. 1007
IntroductionRichard Sieburth and J.-K. Huysmans
A Select Chronology of Fin-de-Siecle Francep. 1063
Biographiesp. 1077
Contributorsp. 1087