Quotes About Decadents

Quotes tagged as "decadents" (showing 1-30 of 42)
Théophile Gautier
“(Decadent style) is ingenious, complicated, learned, full of shades of meaning and research, always pushing further the limits of language... forcing itself to express in thought that which is most ineffable, and in form the vaguest and most fleeting contours; listening that it may translate them to the subtle confidences of the neuropath, to the avowals of aging and depraved passion, and to the singular hallucinations of the fixed idea verging on madness... In opposition to the classic style, it admits of shading, and these shadows teem and swarm with the larvae of superstitions, the haggard phantoms of insomnia, nocturnal terrors, remorse which starts and turns back at the slightest noise, monstrous dreams stayed only by impotence, obscure phantasies at which daylight would stand amazed, and all that the soul conceals of the dark, the unformed, and the vaguely horrible, in its deepest and furthest recesses.”
Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire and His Life

Jean Lorrain
“The madness of the eyes is the lure of the abyss. Sirens lurk in the dark depths of the pupils as they lurk at the bottom of the sea, that I know for sure - but I have never encountered them, and I am searching still for the profound and plaintive gazes in whose depths I might be able, like Hamlet redeemed, to drown the Ophelia of my desire.”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Jean Lorrain
“Masks! I see them everywhere. That dreadful vision of the other night - the deserted town with its masked corpses in every doorway; that nightmare product of morphine and ether - has taken up residence within me. I see masks in the street, I see them on stage in the theatre, I find yet more of them in the boxes. They are on the balcony and in the orchestra-pit. Everywhere I go I am surrounded by masks. The attendants to whom I give my overcoat are masked; masks crowd around me in the foyer as everyone leaves, and the coachman who drives me home has the same cardboard grimace fixed upon his face!

It is truly too much to bear: to feel that one is alone and at the mercy of all those enigmatic and deceptive faces, alone amid all the mocking laughs and the threats embodied in those masks. I have tried to persuade myself that I am dreaming, and that I am the victim of a hallucination, but all the powdered and painted faces of women, all the rouged lips and kohl-blackened eyelids... all of that has created around me an atmosphere of trance and mortal agony. Cosmetics: there is the root cause of my illness!

But I am happy, now, when there are only masks! Sometimes, I detect the cadavers beneath, and remember that beneath the masks there is a host of spectres.”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

“Everyone in a decadent society, Lorrain urges, is guilty. Everyone loves masking murder and everyone takes masochistic pleasure in the risk of discovery and punishment.”
Jennifer Birkett

Joris-Karl Huysmans
“In this game he had acquired a great deal of muddled knowledge, more than one approximation and less than one certitude. And absence of energy, a curiosity that was too sharp to be crushed immediately, a lack of order in his ideas, a weakening of his spiritual boundaries, which were promptly twisted, an excessive passion for running along forked roads and wearying of the path as soon as he had started on it, mental indigestion demanding varied dishes, quickly tiring of the foods he desired, digesting almost all, but badly, was his state.”
Joris-Karl Huysmans, Becalmed

Dmitry Merezhkovsky
“A thought expressed is a falsehood." In poetry what is not said and yet gleams through the beauty of the symbol, works more powerfully on the heart than that which is expressed in words. Symbolism makes the very style, the very artistic substance of poetry inspired, transparent, illuminated throughout like the delicate walls of an alabaster amphora in which a flame is ignited.

Characters can also serve as symbols. Sancho Panza and Faust, Don Quixote and Hamlet, Don Juan and Falstaff, according to the words of Goethe, are "schwankende Gestalten."

Apparitions which haunt mankind, sometimes repeatedly from age to age, accompany mankind from generation to generation. It is impossible to communicate in any words whatsoever the idea of such symbolic characters, for words only define and restrict thought, but symbols express the unrestricted aspect of truth.

Moreover we cannot be satisfied with a vulgar, photographic exactness of experimental photoqraphv. We demand and have premonition of, according to the allusions of Flaubert, Maupassant, Turgenev, Ibsen, new and as yet undisclosed worlds of impressionability. This thirst for the unexperienced, in pursuit of elusive nuances, of the dark and unconscious in our sensibility, is the characteristic feature of the coming ideal poetry. Earlier Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poe said that the beautiful must somewhat amaze, must seem unexpected and extraordinary. French critics more or less successfully named this feature - impressionism.

Such are the three major elements of the new art: a mystical content, symbols, and the expansion of artistic impressionability.

No positivistic conclusions, no utilitarian computation, but only a creative faith in something infinite and immortal can ignite the soul of man, create heroes, martyrs and prophets... People have need of faith, they need inspiration, they crave a holy madness in their heroes and martyrs.

("On The Reasons For The Decline And On The New Tendencies In Contemporary Literature")”
Dmitry Merezhkovsky, The Silver Age of Russian Culture: An Anthology

Rachilde
“A very special case. A few years more, and that pretty creature who you love too much, I think, will, without ever loving them, have known as many men as there are beads on her aunt's rosary. No happy medium! Either a nun or a monster! God's bosom or sensual passions! It would, perhaps, be better to put her in a convent, since we put hysterical women in the Saltpetriere! She does not know vice, she invents it!"

That was ten years ago before the day our story begins and... Raoule was not a nun.”
Rachilde, Monsieur Venus: A Materialist Novel

Joséphin Péladan
“Those very superficial sensualists and profligates who lead the dance of Latin decadence have not seen, among their dancing girls and their pennies, that the disappearance of symbols was a precursor to the ruin of a people; communities only have abstract reasons for existing...”
Joséphin Péladan

Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly
“For a decadent like Baudelaire the only possible ends are suicide or the foot of the cross”
Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly

Jean Lorrain
“In the course of my life I have had pre-pubescent ballerinas; emaciated duchesses, dolorous and forever tired, melomaniac and morphine-sodden; bankers' wives with eyes hollower than those of suburban streetwalkers; music-hall chorus girls who tip creosote into their Roederer when getting drunk...

I have even had the awkward androgynes, the unsexed dishes of the day of the *tables d'hote* of Montmartre. Like any vulgar follower of fashion, like any member of the herd, I have made love to bony and improbably slender little girls, frightened and macabre, spiced with carbolic and peppered with chlorotic make-up.

Like an imbecile, I have believed in the mouths of prey and sacrificial victims. Like a simpleton, I have believed in the large lewd eyes of a ragged heap of sickly little creatures: alcoholic and cynical shop girls and whores. The profundity of their eyes and the mystery of their mouths... the jewellers of some and the manicurists of others furnish them with *eaux de toilette*, with soaps and rouges. And Fanny the etheromaniac, rising every morning for a measured dose of cola and coca, does not put ether only on her handkerchief.

It is all fakery and self-advertisement - *truquage and battage*, as their vile argot has it. Their phosphorescent rottenness, their emaciated fervour, their Lesbian blight, their shop-sign vices set up to arouse their clients, to excite the perversity of young and old men alike in the sickness of perverse tastes! All of it can sparkle and catch fire only at the hour when the gas is lit in the corridors of the music-halls and the crude nickel-plated decor of the bars. Beneath the cerise three-ply collars of the night-prowlers, as beneath the bulging silks of the cyclist, the whole seductive display of passionate pallor, of knowing depravity, of exhausted and sensual anaemia - all the charm of spicy flowers celebrated in the writings of Paul Bourget and Maurice Barres - is nothing but a role carefully learned and rehearsed a hundred times over. It is a chapter of the MANCHON DE FRANCINE read over and over again, swotted up and acted out by ingenious barnstormers, fully conscious of the squalid salacity of the male of the species, and knowledgeable in the means of starting up the broken-down engines of their customers.

To think that I also have loved these maleficent and sick little beasts, these fake Primaveras, these discounted Jocondes, the whole hundred-franc stock-in-trade of Leonardos and Botticellis from the workshops of painters and the drinking-dens of aesthetes, these flowers mounted on a brass thread in Montparnasse and Levallois-Perret!

And the odious and tiresome travesty - the corsetted torso slapped on top of heron's legs, painful to behold, the ugly features primed by boulevard boxes, the fake Dresden of Nina Grandiere retouched from a medicine bottle, complaining and spectral at the same time - of Mademoiselle Guilbert and her long black gloves!...

Have I now had enough of the horror of this nightmare! How have I been able to tolerate it for so long?

The fact is that I was then ignorant even of the nature of my sickness. It was latent in me, like a fire smouldering beneath the ashes. I have cherished it since... perhaps since early childhood, for it must always have been in me, although I did not know it!”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Jean Lorrain
“Astarte has come again, more powerful than before. She possesses me. She lies in wait for me.

December 97

My cruelty has also returned: the cruelty which frightens me. It lies dormant for months, for years, and then all at once awakens, bursts forth and - once the crisis is over - leaves me in mortal terror of myself.

Just now in the avenue of the Bois, I whipped my dog till he bled, and for nothing - for not coming immediately when I called! The poor animal was there before me, his spine arched, cowering close to the ground, with his great, almost human, eyes fixed on me... and his lamentable howling! It was as though he were waiting for the butcher! But it was as if a kind of drunkenness had possessed me. The more I struck out the more I wanted to strike; every shudder of that quivering flesh filled me with some incomprehensible ardour. A circle of onlookers formed around me, and I only stopped myself for the sake of my self-respect.

Afterwards, I was ashamed.

I am always ashamed of myself nowadays. The pulse of life has always filled me with a peculiar rage to destroy. When I think of two beings in love, I experience an agonising sensation; by virtue of some bizarre backlash, there is something which smothers and oppresses me, and I suffocate, to the point of anguish.

Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night to the muted hubbub of bumps and voices which suddenly become perceptible in the dormant city - all the cries of sexual excitement and sensuality which are the nocturnal respiration of cities - I feel weak. They rise up around me, submerging me in a sluggish flux of embraces and a tide of spasms. A crushing weight presses down on my chest; a cold sweat breaks out on my brow and my heart is heavy - so heavy that I have to get up, run bare-foot and breathless, to my window, and open both shutters, trying desperately to breathe. What an atrocious sensation it is! It is as if two arms of steel bear down upon my shoulders and a kind of hunger hollows out my stomach, tearing apart my whole being! A hunger to exterminate love.

Oh, those nights! The long hours I have spent at my window, bent over the immobile trees of the square and the paving-stones of the deserted street, on watch in the silence of the city, starting at the least noise! The nights I have passed, my heart hammering in anguish, wretchedly and impatiently waiting for my torment to consent to leave me, and for my desire to fold up the heavy wings which beat inside the walls of my being like the wings of some great fluttering bird!

Oh, my cruel and interminable nights of impotent rebellion against the rutting of Paris abed: those nights when I would have liked to embrace all the bodies, to suck in all the breaths and sup all the mouths... those nights which would find me, in the morning, prostrate on the carpet, scratching it still with inert and ineffectual fingers... fingers which never know anything but emptiness, whose nails are still taut with the passion of murder twenty-four hours after the crises... nails which I will one day end up plunging into the satined flesh of a neck, and...

It is quite clear, you see, that I am possessed by a demon... a demon which doctors would treat with some bromide or with all-healing sal ammoniac! As if medicines could ever be imagined to be effective against such evil!”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Robert W. Chambers
“It is well known how the book spread like an infectious disease, from city to city, from continent to continent, barred out here, confiscated there, denounced by press and pulpit, censured even by the most advanced of literary anarchists. No definite principles had been violated in those wicked pages, no doctrine promulgated, no convictions outraged. It could not be judged by any known standard, yet, although it was acknowledged that the supreme note of art had been struck in "The King in Yellow," all felt that human nature could not bear the strain nor thrive on words in which the essence of purest poison lurked. The very banality and innocence of the first act only allowed the blow to fall afterwards with more awful effect.”
Robert W. Chambers, The Yellow Sign & Other Stories

Jean Lorrain
“There were charming ones as well as terrible ones, that I must admit. The painter was particularly entranced by Japanese masks: warriors', actors' and courtesans' masks. Some of them were frightfully contorted, the bronze cheeks creased by a thousand wrinkles, with vermilion weeping from the corners of the eyes and long trails of green at the corners of the mouths like splenetic beards.

'These are the masks of demons,' said the Englishman, caressing the long black swept-back tresses of one of them. 'The Samurai wore them in battle, to terrify the enemy. The one which is covered in green scales, with two opal pendants between the nostrils, is the mask of a sea-demon. This one, with the tufts of white fur for eyebrows and the two horsehair brushes beside the lips, is the mask of an old man. These others, of white porcelain - a material as smooth and fine as the cheeks of a Japanese maiden, and so gentle to the touch - are the masks of courtesans. See how alike they all are, with their delicate nostrils, their round faces and their heavy slanted eyelids; they are all effigies of the same goddess. The black of their wigs is rather beautiful, isn't it? Those which bubble over with laughter even in their immobility are the masks of comic actors.'

That devil of a man pronounced the names of demons, gods and goddesses; his erudition cast a spell. Then: 'Bah! I have been down there too long!'

Now he took up the light edifices of gauze and painted silk which were Venetian masks. 'Here is a Cockadrill, a Captain Fracasse, a Pantaloon and a Braggadocio. Only the noses are different - and the cut of their moustaches, if you look at them closely. Doesn't the white silk mask with enormous spectacles evoke a rather comical dread? It is Doctor Curucucu, an actual marionette featured in the Tales of Hoffmann. And what about that one, with all the black horsehair and the long spatulate nose like a stork's beak tipped with a spoon? Can you imagine anything more appalling? It's a duenna's mask; amorous young women were well-guarded when they had to go about flanked by old dragons dressed up in something like that. The whole carnival of Venice is put on parade before us beneath the cape and the domino, lying in ambush behind these masks... Would you like a gondola? Where shall we go, San Marco or the Lido?”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Jean Lorrain
“The beauty of the twentieth century is the charm of the hospital, the grace of the cemetery, of consumption and emaciation. I admit that I have submitted to it all; worse, I have loved with all my heart.”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Vasily Rozanov
“The great self-limitation practiced by man for ten centuries yielded, between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, the whole flower of the so-called "Renaissance." The root, usually, does not resemble the fruit in appearance, but there is an undeniable connection between the root's strength and juiciness and the beauty and taste of the fruit. The Middle Ages, it seems, have nothing in common with the Renaissance and are opposite to it in every way; nonetheless, all the abundance and ebullience of human energies during the Renaissance were based not at all on the supposedly "renascent" classical world, nor on the imitated Plato and Virgil, nor on manuscripts torn from the basements of old monasteries, but precisely on those monasteries, on those stern Franciscians and cruel Dominicans, on Saints Bonaventure, Anselm of Canterbury, and Bernard of Clairvaux. The Middle Ages were a great repository of human energies: in the medieval man's asceticism, self-abnegation, and contempt for his own beauty, his own energies, and his own mind, these energies, this heart, and this mind were stored up until the right time. The Renaissance was the epoch of the discovery of this trove: the thin layer of soil covering it was suddenly thrown aside, and to the amazement of following centuries dazzling, incalculable treasures glittered there; yesterday's pauper and wretched beggar, who only knew how to stand on crossroads and bellow psalms in an inharmonious voice, suddenly started to bloom with poetry, strength, beauty, and intelligence. Whence came all this? From the ancient world, which had exhausted its vital powers? From moldy parchments? But did Plato really write his dialogues with the same keen enjoyment with which Marsilio Ficino annotated them? And did the Romans, when reading the Greeks, really experience the same emotions as Petrarch, when, for ignorance of Greek, he could only move his precious manuscripts from place to place, kiss them now and then, and gaze sadly at their incomprehensible text? All these manuscripts, in convenient and accurate editions, lie before us too: why don't they lead us to a "renascence" among us? Why didn't the Greeks bring about a "renascence" in Rome? And why didn't Greco-Roman literature produce anything similar to the Italian Renaissance in Gaul and Africa from the second to the fourth century? The secret of the Renaissance of the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries does not lie in ancient literature: this literature was only the spade that threw the soil off the treasures buried underneath; the secret lies in the treasures themselves; in the fact that between the fourth and fourteenth centuries, under the influence of the strict ascetic ideal of mortifying the flesh and restraining the impulses of his spirit, man only stored up his energies and expended nothing. During this great thousand-year silence his soul matured for The Divine Comedy; during this forced closing of eyes to the world - an interesting, albeit sinful world-Galileo was maturing, Copernicus, and the school of careful experimentation founded by Bacon; during the struggle with the Moors the talents of Velasquez and Murillo were forged; and in the prayers of the thousand years leading up to the sixteenth century the Madonna images of that century were drawn, images to which we are able to pray but which no one is able to imitate.

("On Symbolists And Decadents")”
Vasily Rozanov, The Silver Age of Russian Culture: An Anthology

Jean Lorrain
“Ensor sees with his imagination, but his vision is perfectly accurate, of an almost geometric precision. He is one of the very few who can really see. Like you, he has an obsession with masks; he is a seer as you and I are. The common herd, of course thinks that he is mad.

*****************

You shall see what sort of man Ensor is, and what a marvellous insight he has into the invisible realm where our vices are created... those vices for which our faces make masks.”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Jean Lorrain
“It is a sort of quasi-monastic diabolical vision. In a landscape populated with larvae - flowing and undulating larvae called forth like a cascade of leeches by tolling bells - three female figures rise up phantasmally, enshrouded with gauze like Spanish madonnas. They are the 'three brides': the bride of Heaven, the bride of the Earth and the bride of Hell...

The bride of Hell, with her two serpents writhing about her temples to hold her veil in place, has the most attractive mask: the most profound eyes, the most vertiginous smile that one could ever see.

If she existed, how I would love that woman! I feel that if that smile and those eyes were in my life they would be all the cure I need!

I could never tire of the study and contemplation of that hallucinatory visage.

"The Three Brides" is very peculiar in its detail and composition. It is the whimsy of a dream rendered with astonishing fastidiousness: the delusion of an opium-smoker composed in the style of Holbein.”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Jean Lorrain
“The other evening, in that cafe-cabaret in the Rue de la Fontaine, where I had run aground with Tramsel and Jocard, who had taken me there to see that supposedly-fashionable singer... how could they fail to see that she was nothing but a corpse?

Yes, beneath the sumptuous and heavy ballgown, which swaddled her and held her upright like a sentry-box of pink velvet trimmed and embroidered with gold - a coffin befitting the queen of Spain - there was a corpse! But the others, amused by her wan voice and her emaciated frame, found her quaint - more than that, quite 'droll'...

Droll! that drab, soft and inconsistent epithet that everyone uses nowadays! The woman had, to be sure, a tiny carven head, and a kind of macabre prettiness within the furry heap of her opera-cloak. They studied her minutely, interested by the romance of her story: a petite bourgeoise thrown into the high life following the fad which had caught her up - and neither of them, nor anyone else besides in the whole of that room, had perceived what was immediately evident to my eyes. Placed flat on the white satin of her dress, the two hands of that singer were the two hands of a skeleton: two sets of knuckle-bones gloved in white suede. They might have been drawn by Albrecht
Durer: the ten fingers of an evil dead woman, fitted at the ends of the two overlong and excessively thin arms of a mannequin...

And while that room convulsed with laughter and thrilled with pleasure, greeting her buffoonery and her animal cries with a dolorous ovation, I became convinced that her hands no more belonged to her body than her body, with its excessively high shoulders, belonged to her head...

The conviction filled me with such fear and sickness that I did not hear the singing of a living woman, but of some automaton pieced together from disparate odds and ends - or perhaps even worse, some dead woman hastily reconstructed from hospital remains: the macabre fantasy of some medical student, dreamed up on the benches of the lecture-hall... and that evening began, like some tale of Hoffmann, to turn into a vision of the lunatic asylum.

Oh, how that Olympia of the concert-hall has hastened the progress of my malady!”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Jean Lorrain
“The larvae! The scent of young blood entices and draws them closer. There's no need to venture into antiquity to evoke the shades of the dead.”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Vasily Rozanov
“From the fourteenth to the nineteenth century we have merely been expending the incalculable treasures discovered then and using up the great supply of energies gathered up to that time. Hence, modern history is the antithesis of the Middle Ages; man no longer wants to keep silent about himself: he hastens to express to others every slightest feeling and every new thought he may have through the medium of colors or sounds and, without fail, by means of the printing press. One might say that just as man studiously effaced himself up to the fourteenth century, so he becomes garrulous once he crosses into that century and all the succeeding ones. Not only what is wise, not only what is noble, but also what is ridiculous, stupid, and hideous in himself he couches in poetry and prose, sets to music, and would very much like, but he is unable, to express in marble and to fix within architectural lines. It is remarkable that architecture - that kind of impersonal art, that form of creation in which the creator is merged with his epoch and people, in which he does not rise above them, nor set apart his own I on their background - declines, as soon as we enter modern history, and not once during this period does it rise to the sublime or the beautiful.

("On Symbolists And Decadents")”
Vasily Rozanov

Jean Lorrain
“The Marquis de V... - whose falsetto voice and little watery eyes I have always detested - was saying to me with a wicked smile: 'Then again, the master gymnast might break his neck at any moment. What he is doing now is very dangerous, my dear, and the pleasure you take in his performance is the little frisson that danger affords you. Wouldn't it be thrilling, if his sweaty hand failed to grip the bar? The velocity acquired by his rotation about the bar would break his spine quite cleanly, and perhaps a little of the cervical matter might spurt out as far as this! It would be most sensational, and you would have a rare emotion to add to the field of your experience - for you collect emotions, don't you? What a pretty stew of terrors that man in tights stirs up in us!

'Admit that you almost wish that he will fall! Me too. Many others in the auditorium are in the same state of attention and anguish. That is the horrible instinct of a crowd confronted with a spectacle which awakens in it the ideas of lust and death. Those two agreeable companions always travel together! Take it from me that at the very same moment - see, the man is now holding on to the bar by his fingertips alone - at the very same moment, a good number of the women in these boxes are ardently lusting after that man, not so much for his beauty as for the danger he courts.'

The voice subtly changed its tone, suddenly becoming more interested. 'You have singularly pale eyes this evening, my dear Freneuse. You ought to give up bromides and take valerian instead. You have a charming and curious soul, but you must take command of its changes. You are too ardently and too obviously covetous, this evening, of the death - or at least the fall - of that man.'

I did not reply. The Marquis de V... was quite right. The madness of murder had taken hold of me again; the spectacle had me in its hallucinatory grip. Straitened by a penetrating and delirious anguish, I yearned for that man to fall.

There are appalling depths of cruelty within me.”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Jean Lorrain
“Look, de Mazel, you've known him for years - hasn't he been known to sleep for forty hours in two days?'

'Forty hours?'

'Certainly. He awoke at meal times, just to take nourishment, and afterwards fell again into his torpor. And Freneuse had a strange horror of sleep; there was some abnormal phenomenon associated with it, some lesion of the brain or neurotic depression.'

'The troublesome cerebral anaemia which results from excessive debauchery. Another myth! I've never believed, myself, in the supposed debauchery of that poor gentleman. Such a frail chap, with such a delicate complexion! Quite frankly, there was no scope in him for debauchery.

'Pooh! About as much as Lorenzaccio!'

'You associate him with the Medicis! Lorenzaccio was a Florentine impassioned by rancour, a man of energy slowly brooding over his vengeance, caressing it as he might caress the blade of a dagger! There is not the slightest comparison to be drawn between Lorenzaccio and that gall-green, liverish creature Freneuse.”
Jean Lorrain, Monsieur De Phocas

Vasily Rozanov
“Obviously, for these artists history has died; and even in their favorite "subjects" the face, name, past, and future of man have died; and out of this dead silence, out of this dark non-existence protruded - just as for the Decadents of our own day - nothing but "pale legs," the fixed idea of their morbidly disposed imagination.

("On Symbolists And Decadents")”
Vasily Rozanov

Vasily Rozanov
“Thus, Symbolism and Decadence are not a separate new school which arose in France and spread throughout all of Europe: they represent the end and culmination of a certain other school whose links were very extensive and whose roots go back to the beginning of the modern age. Symbolism, easily deduced from Maupassant, can also be deduced from Zola, Flaubert, and Balzac, from Ultra-realism as the antithesis of the previous Ultra-idealism Romanticism and "renascent" Classicism. It is precisely this element of ultra - the result of ultra manifested in life itself, in its mores, ideas, proclivities, and aspirations - that has wormed into literature and remained there ever since, expressing itself, finally, in such a hideous phenomenon as Decadence and Symbolism. The ultra without its referent, exaggeration without the exaggerated object, preciosity of form conjoined with total disappearance of content, and "poetry" devoid of rhyme, meter, and sense - that is what constitutes Decadence.”
Vasily Rozanov

Dmitry Merezhkovsky
“In essence the entire generation at the end of the nineteenth century bears in its soul that same reaction against the suffocatingly dead positivism which lay on hearts like a stone. It is quite possible that they will perish, that they will not succeed in accomplishing anything. But others will come and will carry on, all the same, their work, because this work is vital...

Symbols must naturally and effortlessly emerge out of the depth of reality. But if the author unnaturally invents them in order to express some idea or other, they will be transformed into dead allegories which arouse nothing other than repulsion like all that is dead.

("On The Reasons For The Decline And On The New Tendencies In Contemporary Literature")”
Dmitry Merezhkovsky

“On the whole, although Zuleika is shallow and vain, we don’t blame her for her disastrous effect on Oxford because we perceive that the love she inspires is essentially narcissistic and has deep roots in the institution she has overwhelmed. It is a love of the unobtainable ideal—the paradox of self-fulfillment in self-destruction—which originates with Romanticism, with Byron and Shelley, and finds its apotheosis in the decadent pose of Wilde: his open self-love, yet self-destructive wantonness and preoccupation with death.”
Sara Lodge, Zuleika Dobson

Vasily Rozanov
“The religion of this 'I', the poetry of this 'I', and the philosophy of the same 'I' that from Poggio and Felelfo to Byron and Goethe produced a number of works astonishing for their profundity and brilliance have finally exhausted its content; and in the poetry of Decadence we see the rapid falling away of the empty shell of this 'I'. We remarked previously about the exaggeration without the exaggerated object, and about the precious style without the subject of this preciosity, which characterize this poetry — this is so in regard to its form; in regard to its content Decadence is above all hopeless egoism. The world, as an object of love, of interest, even as the object of indignation or contempt, has disappeared from this "poetry”; the world has disappeared, not only as an object exciting some reaction in this vapid 'I', but also as a spectator and possible judge of this 'I'; it is not even present.

("On Symbolists And Decadence")”
Vasily Rozanov

Vasily Rozanov
“We observe in this torrent of incoherence a lack of regularity in the subject himself; the "I" has fallen to pieces after struggling for three centuries against the great objective institutions and dissolving them with its subjectivism and rejecting in them any law that was sacred and binding on itself.

There is no reason to think that Decadence - obviously an historical phenomenon of great inevitability and significance — has confined itself to poetry; we should expect in the more or less distant future the Decadence of philosophy and finally the Decadence of morality, politics, and forms of communal life. To a certain extent Nietzsche can already be considered the Decadent of human thought — at least to the extent that Maupassant, in certain "final touches" of his art, can be considered the Decadent of human emotion. Like Maupassant, Nietzsche ended in madness; and in Nietzsche, just as in Maupassant, the cult of the "I" loses all restraining limits: the world, history, and the human being with his toils and legitimate demands have disappeared equally from the works of both; both were "mystic males" to a considerable degree, only one of them preferred to "flutter " above "quivering orchids," whereas the other liked to sit inside a cave or upon a mountaintop and proclaim a new religion to mankind in his capacity as the reborn "Zarathustra." The religion of the "superman," he explained. But all of them, including Maupassant, were already "supermen" in that they had absolutely no need of mankind and mankind had absolutely no need of them. On this new type of nisus formativus of human culture, so to speak, we should expect to see great oddities, great hideousness, and perhaps great calamities and dangers.

("On Symbolists And Decadents")”
Vasily Rozanov, The Silver Age of Russian Culture: An Anthology

Vasily Rozanov
“We mean to say that Symbolism and Decadence — the negative attitude to which is indisputable to everyone except the "participants" — are genetically connected with everything brilliant and sublime created by the "unbound personality" during this period of time, from the Renaissance up to the development of electrical engineering; contrariwise, the border which they cannot cross is laid down where man understood that he was always "bound." The great continent of history, the continent of real deeds, practical needs, and more than all that, of received religion and the established Church - that is whose shore this stinking monster can never crawl into, that is where we are fleeing to from it, that is where man can always save himself. Where the monastery wall rises this surge of the faithless waves of history — no matter how strong it may become and how far it may spread around — will stop and fall back.

("On Symbolists & Decadence")”
Vasily Rozanov, The Silver Age of Russian Culture: An Anthology

Vincent O'Sullivan
“At length, one evening towards the end of March, the mental clearness of Orange somewhat revived, and he felt himself compelled to get up and put on his clothes. The nurse, thinking that the patient was resting quietly, and fearing the shine of the lamp might distress him, had turned it low and gone away for a little: so it was without interruption, although reeling from giddiness, and scorched with fever, that Rupert groped about till he found some garments, and his evening suit. Clad in these, and throwing a cloak over his shoulders, he went downstairs. Those whom he met, that recognized him, looked at him wonderingly and with a vague dread; but he appeared to have his understanding as well as they, and so he passed through the hall without being stopped; and going into the bar, he called for brandy. The bar-tender, to whom he was known, exclaimed in astonishment; but he got no reply from Orange, who, pouring himself out a large quantity of the fiery liquor found it colder than the coldest iced water in his burning frame. When he had taken the brandy, he went into the street. It was a bleak seasonable night, and a bitter frost-rain was falling: but Orange went through it, as if the bitter weather was a not unwelcome coolness, although he shuddered in an ague-fit. As he stood on the corner of Twenty-third Street, his cloak thrown open, the sleet sowing down on his shirt, and the slush which covered his ankles soaking through his thin shoes, a member of his club came by and spoke to him.

"Why, good God! Orange, you don't mean to say you're out on a night like this! You must be much better--eh?" he broke off, for Orange had given him a grey look, with eyes in which there was no speculation; and the man hurried away scared and rather aghast. "These poet chaps are always queer fishes," he muttered uneasily, as he turned into the Fifth Avenue Hotel.

Of the events of terror and horror which happened on that awful night, when a human soul was paying the price of an astonishing violation of the order of the universe, no man shall ever tell. Blurred, hideous, and enormous visions of dives, of hells where the worst scum of the town consorted, of a man who spat on him, of a woman who struck him across the face with her umbrella, calling him the foulest of names--visions such as these, and more hateful than these, presented themselves to Orange, when he found himself, at three o'clock in the morning, standing under a lamp-post in that strange district of New York called "The Village."

("The Bargain Of Rupert Orange")”
Vincent O'Sullivan, The Supernatural Omnibus: Being a Collection of Stories of Apparitions, Witchcraft, Werewolves, Diabolism, Necromancy, Satanism, Divination, Sorcery, Goetry, Voodoo, Possession, Occult, Doom and Destiny

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