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in literature, name loosely applied to those 19th-century, fin-de-siècle European authors who sought inspiration, both in their lives and in their writings, in aestheticism and in all the more or less morbid and macabre expressions of human emotion. In reaction to the naturalism of the European realists, the decadents espoused that art should exist for its own sake, independent of moral and social concerns. The epithet was first applied in the 1880s to a group of self-conscious and flamboyant French poets, who in 1886 published the journal Le Décadent. The decadents venerated Baudelaire and the French symbolistssymbolists,
in literature, a school originating in France toward the end of the 19th cent. in reaction to the naturalism and realism of the period. Designed to convey impressions by suggestion rather than by direct statement, symbolism found its first expression in poetry but
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, the group with whom they are often mistakenly identified. In England the decadent movement was represented in the 1890s by Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, Ernest Dowson, and Aubrey Beardsley and the writers of the Yellow Book. J. K. Huysmans's À rebours (1884) and Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) present vivid fictionalized portraits of the 19th-century decadent—his restlessness, his spiritual confusion, and his moral inversion.


See A. E. Carter, The Idea of Decadence in French Literature (1958); M. Rheims, The Flowering of Art Nouveau (1966); J. Pierrot, The Decadent Imagination, 1880–1900 (tr. 1981).

References in periodicals archive ?
The cynicism and distrust caused by such political failings led Decadents to turn away from the modern, bourgeois society and take refuge in a world of art, which as Kingcaid notes, was seen as "innately superior to life" (6).
Rather, through his own personal reading of the paintings and from what he claims to infer in the women's faces and poses, Machado's ekphrastic rendering of the portraits reflects the characteristics typically associated with women as the Decadents saw them: neurosis, enervation, and a beautiful paleness on the one hand, and monstrous, dangerous ugliness on the other.
The Decadents who upheld these standards of beauty also preferred languid, quiescent women to active, powerful ones.
Filled with information about the costs, styles of paper and printing, and the day-to-day business of publishing during this period, Publisher to the Decadents contains a few beautiful reproductions of drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, the artist who helped Smithers achieve his great success.
Publisher to the Decadents furnishes helpful annotated checklists of Smithers' publications and chapter notes that consume over a hundred pages.
Soy Delicious's Purely Decadent line averages just over 400 calories per cup--too many for a Best Bite.