Fin de Siècle / Decadence

[Posted 16.v.2017]

The Dead Past forms the first part of Sir Edmund’s fictionalised memoirs, and was completed only some months before his death in 1944. Like an opium dream, it blends truth and fantasy to bring alive a youth spent in the company of the leading personalities of the fin de siècle. Those featured include Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas, Walter Pater, Paul Verlaine, Lord Rosebery, and the courtesan La Belle Otéro, some of whom are described as his lovers. The chapter on Wilde reads like a revenge for past snubs.

Sir Edmund’s other volume of memoirs, Décadence Mandchoue, details his later life in China, describing real or imagined affairs with nobles and commoners, and also with the Empress Dowager Cixi (Tz’u Hsi).  It was first published in 2011 by Earnshaw Books, and was written prior to The Dead Past.

Despite The Dead Past being completed in Peking in 1943, it has only been available to readers in typescript form, upon application to one of the four institutions that hold copies. This is despite its continued referencing by scholars. 



Volupté is an MLA-indexed online journal of Decadence from antiquity to the present. It appears each year in Spring and Autumn, and brings together in themed issues creative and critical approaches to the fast-growing field of Decadence studies.

The aim of Volupté is to enhance and broaden the scope of Decadence studies and stimulate discussion in relation to literary Decadence and other forms of discourse, including Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, and Science. Peer-reviewed essays and book reviews will be published alongside new translations, poetry, short fiction, and visual art. Based at Goldsmiths, University of London, Volupté is dedicated to promoting cutting-edge work by creative writers and artists and publishing the best research on Decadence by early career and established scholars.

For details about how to submit proposals for publication, see Guidelines. To contact the Editors, please email

Volupté is a unique SquareSpace website hosted by University of London Computing Centre (ULCC) using the Open Journals System (OJS).

ISSN: 2515-0073


The Jewelled Tortoise

The ‘Jewelled Tortoise’, named after J. K. Huysmans’s iconic image of Decadent taste in A Rebours (1884), is a series founded by Stefano Evangelista and Catherine Maxwell in 2014 and dedicated to Aesthetic and Decadent literature.

Its scholarly editions, complete with critical introductions and accompanying materials, aim to make available to students and scholars alike works of literature and criticism which embody the intellectual daring, formal innovation, and cultural diversity of the British and European fin de siècle.

The series so far:

Arthur Machen: The Great God Pan And Other Works
Edited by Dennis Denisoff
Jewelled Tortoise 4 / Critical Texts 53•30th June 2017

Arthur Symons, Selected Early Poems
Edited by Chris Baldick and Jane Desmarais
Jewelled Tortoise 3 / Critical Texts 42•11th April 2017

Arthur Symons, Spiritual Adventures
Edited by Nicholas Freeman 
Jewelled Tortoise 2 / Critical Texts 39•10th February 2017

Walter Pater: Imaginary Portraits
Edited by Lene Østermark-Johansen
Jewelled Tortoise 1 / Critical Texts 35•1st April 2014

[Posted 11.v.2017]


Sharon Larson reviews

Albert, Nicole. Lesbian Decadence: Representations in Art and Literature of Fin-de-Siècle France. Translated by Nancy Erber and William A. Peniston, Harrington Park Press, 2016, pp. 403, ISBN 9781939594075


Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Volume 45.3-4, 2017


[Posted 10.v.2017]

Elisa Bizzotto has posted her ‘Reception of Walter Pater in Europe’ on Academia


[Posted 06.v.2017]

French Studies Volume 71 Issue 2 April 2017 contains the following reviews:

  • Huysmans avec Dieu: aise et disgrâce. Par Jérôme Solal.  Review by Hannah Scott
  • Rimbaud poéticien. Sous la direction d’Olivier Bivort.  Review by Greg Kerr
  • Swann at 100 / Swann à 100 ans. Edited by Adam Watt.  Review by Áine Larkin
  • Dictionnaire du dandysme. Sous la direction d’Alain Montandon.  Review by Philippa Lewis
  • Poets as Readers in Nineteenth-Century France: Critical Reflections. Edited by Joseph Acquisto, Adrianna M. Paliyenko, and Catherine Witt.  Review by Seth Whidden
[Posted 12.iv.2017]

Joseph T. Acquisto has announced the publication of his book Proust, Music, and Meaning: Theories and Practices of Listening in the Recherche.

[Posted 02.ii.2017]

The Latchkey:  A Journal of New Woman Studies is pleased to announce the launch of its latest issue. 

Take a minute to scroll through our Table of Contents; click on the link included below to go directly to the issue.

[Posted 26.xi.2016]

Dear colleagues,

Please permit me to draw your attention to the publication of THEODORE WRATISLAW: FRAGMENTS OF A LIFE, now available from Rivendale Press (, also and The Foreword was kindly written by Barry Humphries, the well-known bibliophile (amongst other things!)

Wratislaw is one of the most biographically elusive figures of the ‘decadent’ 1890s . Though invariably named in accounts of the period, he remains a marginal figure, crowded out by the likes of Wilde and Beardsley. When he is noticed, it is usually as an imposter who adopted the decadent – and, most notably, homoerotic – pose in his poetry, but in truth lived the convention-bound life of a civil servant. The accusation of insincerity has stuck, and in my view had a deleterious impact on the assessment of his work. And yet, as new research has shown, the accusation is based on a mistaken view of his life – contrary to Betjeman’s assessment of the ‘buttoned up figure obviously longing to burst out of his narrow neatness,’ Wratislaw’s struggle was to maintain some semblance of bourgeois respectability rather than to escape it. Besides recurring mental illness, he experienced trials and tribulations in his private life to rival almost any of his more notorious fellow members of Yeat’s ‘tragic generation.’

 The biography is the first, and possible only because I was able to track down and receive the help of Wratislaw’s grandchildren – who kindly allowed me access to the unpublished remainder of the memoir from which Theodore’s oft-cited reminiscences of Wilde was taken and published in the 1970s – other family members, and material in private collections (most notably Barry Humphries’ unrivalled collection of ‘Wratislaviana’). I would go as far as to say that it completely reassesses Wratislaw’s life, and will necessitate a similar reassessment of his poetic legacy – but then I would, wouldn’t I?

 Many thanks

Darren Sheppard

 DJ Sheppard MA PhD

[Posted 06.xi.2016]

Dear readers, chers lecteurs,

nous avons l’immense plaisir de vous annoncer la parution du volume I de la Correspondance de Vernon Lee, aux éditions Routledge:

It is an immense pleasure to announce the publication of:

Selected Letters of Vernon Lee, 1856 – 1935

Volume I, 1865-1884

Edited by Amanda Gagel (Editor) & Sophie Geoffroy (Associate Editor). 658 pp.

This critical edition gathers for the first time after A Gagel’s Doctorate Thesis, over 350 letters from 40 archives. Written in English, French, German or Italian, they have been translated into English when necessary by Christa Zorn (from the German), Crystal Hall (from the Italian) and Sophie Geoffroy (from the French). Numerous footnotes, notices and a 33-page index illuminate the reading of these exceptional letters.

Cette édition critique rassemble, pour la première fois depuis la Thèse d’A. Gagel, plus de 350 lettres pour la plupart inédites issues de près de 40 archives publiques ou privées dans le monde. Rédigées en anglais, en français, en italien ou en allemand, elles sont présentées en version bilingue: les lettres en allemand ont été traduites par Christa Zorn (Indiana South University), les lettres en italien par Crystal Hall, les lettres en français par Sophie Geoffroy. L’appareil critique important comporte notamment d’abondantes notes, des notices et un index de 33 pages.

Correspondants (vol. I):

Matilda Adams, Henry Ferguson Paget, Eugene Lee-Hamilton, (Agnes) Mary Frances Robinson (future Darmesteter, puis Duclaux), Henrietta Jenkin, Linda Villari, Cornelia Turner, Enrico Nencioni, Mario Pratesi, Angelo De Gubernatis, Pietro Fanfani, Carlo Placci, Telemaco Signorini, William Blackwood, Percy William Bunting, Thomas Hay Sweet Escott, Frances Power Cobbe, Marie Schüpbach (future Krebs).

We are particularly grateful to:

Nos remerciements vont en particulier à:

Patricia Burdick, Maggie Libby, and Erin Rhodes, at the Vernon Lee Archive in the Miller Library at Colby College, Maine; The Angelli-Parretti family, and especially Federica Parretti and Stefano Vincieri of the Associazione Culturale Palmerino; Guillaume Fau, at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris;


Dr. Anne Manuel at the Vernon Lee Archive at Somerville College, Oxford;Dr. Corinna Jäger-Trees at the Bern Literary Archive; Alyson Price at the British Institute in Florence; Laura Desideri at the Gabinetto Vieusseux; Fiorella Superbi at Villa I Tatti; The British Library; The Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Yours sincereLEE

Sophie & Mandy

[Posted 20.i.2016]

Rosemary Yeoland writes

I recently had published my translation of Camille Mauclair’s Le Soleil des morts as A Translation from French into English of Camille Mauclair’s Le Soleil des Morts/Sun of the Dead   by Edwin Mellen Press in New York ISBN-13 978-1-4955-0349-8 

This should be of particular interest to scholars not familiar with the French language as Mauclair’s novel provides a keyhole picture of the cultural, social and political essence of the artistic milieu of nineteenth century Paris. Many of Mauclair’s contemporaries such as Stéphane Mallarmé, Auguste Rodin, Claude Debussy, Whistler are represented under disguise.

[Posted 09.i.2016]

Lesbian Decadence: Representations in Art and Literature in Fin-de-Siècle France by Nicole G. Albert; translated by Nancy Erber and William Peniston.

In 1857 the French poet Charles Baudelaire, who was fascinated by lesbianism, created a scandal with Les Fleurs du Mal [The Flowers of Evil]. This collection was originally entitled “The Lesbians” and described women as “femmes damnées,” with “disordered souls” suffering in a hypocritical world. Then twenty years later, lesbians in Paris dared to flaunt themselves in that extraordinarily creative period at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries which became known as the Belle Époque.

Lesbian Decadence, now available in English for the first time, provides a new analysis and synthesis of the depiction of lesbianism as a social phenomenon and a symptom of social malaise as well as a fantasy in that most vibrant place and period in history. In this newly translated work, praised by leading critics as “authoritative,” “stunning,” and “a marvel of elegance and erudition,” Nicole G. Albert analyzes and synthesizes an engagingly rich sweep of historical representations of the lesbian mystique in art and literature. Albert contrasts these visions to moralists’ abrupt condemnations of “the lesbian vice,” as well as the newly emerging psychiatric establishment’s medical fury and their obsession on cataloging and classifying symptoms of “inversion” or “perversion” in order to cure these “unbalanced creatures of love.”

Lesbian Decadence combines literary, artistic, and historical analysis of sources from the mainstream to the rare, from scholarly studies to popular culture. The English translation provides a core reference/text for those interested in the Decadent movement, literary history, French history, and social history. It is well suited for courses in gender studies, women’s studies, LGBT history, and lesbianism in literature, history, and art.

Nicole G. Albert is an independent scholar with a doctoral degree in comparative literature from the Sorbonne. She is the editor of Renée Vivien à rebours: études pour un centenaire [Renée Vivien Against the Grain: Studies for a Centenary] and Renée Vivien, une femme de lettres entre deux siècles [Renée Vivien: A Woman Writer between Two Centuries] as well as the author of La Castiglione: Vies et Métamorphoses [Castiglione: Lives and Metamorphoses].

ABOUT THE Translators
Nancy Erber is professor emerita of linguistics and modern languages at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York. An expert in fin-de-siècle literature, she edited, along with George Robb, Disorder in the Court: Trials and Sexual Conflict at the Turn of the Century. William A. Peniston is the librarian and archivist at the Newark Museum, as well as a French historian with a doctoral degree from the University of Rochester. He is the author of Pederasts and Others: Urban Culture and Sexual Identity in Nineteenth Century Paris. Nancy Erber and William A. Peniston co-edited and co-translated Queer Lives: Men’s Autobiographies from Nineteenth-Century France and Bougres de vies: huit homosexuels du XIXe se racontent.

[Posted 17.xi.2015]

The Genge Press announces the publication in new English translations of two plays by Edmond Rostand.  For the Press Release, please click here.

[Posted 05.iv.2015]

Pierre Michel announces the publication of no. 22 of the remarkable Cahiers Octave Mirbeau ( 304 pp., abundantly illustrated). Click here for the Table of Contents.


[Posted 31.iii.2015]

Volume 2 of the Pierre Louÿs Correspondance croisée, covering the years 1899-1905 and edited by Gordon Millan, was published by Honoré Champion on Friday 27 th March.

640 p. 125€.

For Volum 1, see below, post of 05.i.2015

[Posted 22.ii.2015]

Edinburgh University Press announces

 The Decadent Short Story: An Annotated Anthology
432 pages; 12 bw Illustrations

The first anthology of Decadent short stories reflecting a variety of fin de siècle themes.

 This wide-ranging anthology showcases for the first time the short story as the most attractive genre for British writers who experimented with Decadent themes and styles. From familiar writers such as Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons and Oscar Wilde to less well known writers such as Charles Ricketts, Victoria Cross and Ella D’Arcy, the 36 stories demonstrate ideas of class, gender, sexuality, and science as well as the Gothic, social satire, Symbolist fantasy, fairy tale, Naturalism/Realism, Impressionism, erotica, and the scientific romance. The selections represent the important role that magazine culture played in the unprecedented explosion of the Decadent short story in the 1890s. A full introductory essay sets the scene, while an introduction and endnotes for each story and explanatory material at the end of the book – including a chronologically arranged and annotated list of Aesthetic and Decadent stories and a select bibliography – make this anthology stand out.

[Posted 09.i.2015]

Peter Lang announces the publication of

Miroslaw Aleksander Miernik: The Literary Images of Frederick Rolfe. Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien Peter Lang 2015. 214 pp.

Print: ISBN 978-3-631-65272-5 hb. (Hardcover)

SFR 60.00 / €* 52.95 / €** 54.50 / € 49.50 / £ 40.00 / US$ 64.95

eBook: ISBN 978-3-653-04384-6

SFR 63.20 / €* 58.91 / €** 59.40 / € 49.50 / £ 40.00 / US$ 64.95

Book synopsis

Drawing on theories of biography and autobiography, including the works of Philippe Lejeune, Michel Foucault, and Philip Roth, Rolfe, Rose, Corvo, Crabbe attempts to tackle the issue of Frederick Rolfe’s image. Like many other authors, Rolfe (1860-1913), also known as Baron Corvo, wanted to influence the way others see him through his works. However, the image he wanted to project was skewed by A.J.A. Symons’ fascinating, yet inaccurate, biography, The Quest for Corvo, which popularized a strongly autobiographical approach to his work. Analysing the issue, this book takes into consideration his biographies, his self-fashioning in his letters, and his novels, particularly focusing on the characters who were heavily inspired by his own experiences, such as Nicholas Crabbe and George Arthur Rose.

Mirosław Aleksander Miernik is an Associate Professor at the Institute of English Studies at the University of Warsaw. His research interests include 20th and 21st century American culture, Subcultural studies, Postmodern American literature, and British literature of the early 20th century.

[Posted 05.i.2015]

We are pleased to announce the forthcoming publication

Gordon Millan : Correspondance croisée Pierre Louÿs-Georges Louis 1870-1917, tome 1 1890-1898, éditon établie et annotée par Gordon Millan, Honoré Champion, collection “Bibliothèque des Correspondances, Mémoires et Journaux”, 2015. EAN13 : 9782745327482.

Vols 2, 3 and 4 will appear at three monthly intervals. Volume 4, scheduled for publication in September 2015, contains a general index of all 4 volumes.



 Pierre Louÿs a entretenu des correspondances avec de nombreuses personnalités des lettres et des arts. Au fil des années, ces correspondances ont commencé à voir le jour: celles publiées récemment avec Paul Valéry, André Gide, et son beau-père José-Maria de Heredia complètent d’autres déjà connues avec Claude Debussy, Frédéric Lachèvre, Jean de Tinan, Curnonsky, etc. Aucune de ces correspondances, pour intéressantes qu’elles soient, n’égale en valeur tant par son contenu que par sa régularité celle que Pierre Louÿs entretint presque chaque jour et parfois plusieurs fois par jour pendant plus d’un quart de siècle avec son demi-frère, Georges Louis.

Après la dispersion des papiers de Louÿs, on a longtemps cru cette correspondance irrémédiablement perdue. Il n’en est rien. Réunie aujourd’hui après quarante années de recherches, cette correspondance croisée nous permet de suivre un dialogue passionnant entre un écrivain qui vivait au coeur des cercles littéraires et artistiques de Paris et un grand fonctionnaire de l’État qui occupa au Caire, à Paris et enfin à Saint-Pétersbourg les postes diplomatiques les plus importants de son époque. Témoignage sur une exceptionnelle relation affective, ces lettres nous fournissent d’intéressants commentaires sur les amitiés littéraires et artistiques de Louÿs avec Mallarmé, Heredia, Régnier, Gide, Valéry, Debussy, Oscar Wilde, pour ne citer qu’eux. Pour leur part, les lettres de Georges Louis, subtilement nuancées, pleines de conseils et d’encouragements et, le cas échéant, de critiques parfois brutales, donnent à cet échange épistolaire une importante dimension historique et politique. Les grands événements de la fin du XIXe siècle défilent devant nos yeux avec de savoureux commentaires souvent très informés: le scandale de Panama, le procès d’Oscar Wilde, l’affaire Dreyfus, Fachoda, la crise marocaine, la crise des Balkans et la catastrophique Première Guerre mondiale.

Il s’agit en fin de compte d’un témoignage unique de deux spectateurs privilégiés qui jettent un regard souvent amusé mais toujours éclairé sur un monde qui n’existe plus.

Spécialiste de la littérature française de la fin du XIXe siècle,  Gordon Millan est l’auteur d’une des toutes premières études sur Pierre Louÿs : Pierre Louÿs ou le culte de l’amitié, (éditions Pandora, 1979). Il a également publié de nombreux ouvrages sur Stéphane Mallarmé, dont une biographie et plusieurs éditions critiques. Il prépare actuellement un ouvrage sur l’amitié Pierre Louÿs — Claude Debussy.

 95,00 €


[Posted 16.01.2014]

Two recent publications from Capella Archive

Victorian Dark Angel

by Richard Whittington-Egan :
370pp. 23 illus. 245 x 170mm:
Hardback edition: 978-1-902918-56-3: £35.00

Poet in a Gallery of Pigeons

by Richard Whittington-Egan :
148pp. 23 illus. 245 x 170mm:
Hardback edition: 978-1-902918-59-4: £30.00

johnson marzials

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