As Dr. Dowling demonstrates, literary Decadence in this linguistic and cultural context was to reveal itself as a mode of Romanticism demoralized by philology. Decadent writers like Paler and Wilde and Beardslcy sought to preserve a few precious fragments from what they imagined--and paradoxically welcomed--as England's imminent decline and fall.
Originally published in 1987.
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"Language and Decadence is going to change the way we look at the final decades of English Victorianism, and for that matter at the whole of Victorian literature."--Robert Keefe, Kritikon Litterarum
"Linda Dowling has taken an unusual but stimulating approach to the whole subject of Decadence in English literature. She succeeds in divorcing Decadence from its sensational connotations, and identifies the term instead with a coherent attitude toward language."--John R. Reed, Nineteenth Century Literature
"This is an important book with a fascinating thesis. It could be written only by someone with Professor Dowling's evident command of German and English philology."--Robert O. Preyer, Journal of English and Germanic Philology
"[Dowling] has . . . written an essential book. . . . No one henceforth will be able to write about literary decadence or Pater's role therein without taking into account Dowling's explanations. More, her book should do much to bring about an awareness of a chapter of linguistic history too little regarded by literary criticism."--Wendell V. Harris, English Literature in Transition
"Dowling produces a dazzling series of rereadings. . . . [Her] book is essential reading for anyone wanting to follow debates about decadence."--Bruce Gardiner, Victorian Studies
Table of Contents:
- FrontMatter, pg. i
- Table of Contents, pg. vii
- Preface, pg. ix
- I. Romantic Philology and Victorian Civilization, pg. 3
- II. The Decay of Literature, pg. 46
- III. The Fatal Book, pg. 104
- IV. Disembodied Voices, pg. 175
- V. Yeats and the Book of the People, pg. 244
- Index, pg. 285