The past year has been excellent for all the followers, as languishing as they are, of the British 1890s. During this period, aesthetes and decadents such as Oscar Wilde, Count Stanislaus Eric Stenbock and Enoch Soames celebrated art for art, while displaying their outrageous personality and despising the bourgeois establishment. Delicate young men produced thin volumes of ethereal verse or prose, then gave them titles such as "Discords," "Wreckage," or "Negations." It was the time of this notorious quarterly, the Yellow Book, and grotesque Pierrots and his courtesans. in his pages by Aubrey Beardsley. It was, in many ways, the first colorful bloom of modern gay culture.
While the 1890s produced strange personalities, none was as foreign as Frederick William Rolfe, who adopted the pseudonym Baron Corvo for his astonishing 1904 novel "Hadrian VII", in which a Grub hack Street is elected pope. Rolfe himself was excessively abrasive, paranoid, and naughty, as A.J.A. The pioneering biography of Symons in 1934, "The Quest for Corvo", recently reissued by Tartarus Press in a beautiful illustrated edition, superbly presented by Mark Valentine. In his pages, we not only discuss the hectic life of Rolfe's scandal – which ended in sordid antics with Venetian gondoliers – but also interviews of Symons with eccentric collectors and aging priests seeking information about his subject as fascinating as fascinating.
The resulting double portrait, of an elegant writing, imbued with an antique charm and a seductive reading, is considered a minor masterpiece. But, in reality, are not the minor masterpieces the best? The Grolier Club of New York welcomes, until January 5, "A.J.A. Symons: A Bibliomane, Its Books and Clubs ", Symposium Symposium by Simon C.W. Hewett. For bibliophiles, a trip to Manhattan is worthwhile.
In early 2018, Harvard University Press published "The Annotated Writings of Oscar Wilde Prison," published under the direction of Nicholas Frankel (who had previously annotated the original version of "The Portrait of Dorian Gray" by Wilde). Sentenced to two years of forced labor for gross indecency with young men, Wilde, often discouraged, still manages to write his last major works: "The Reading Gaol Ballad", remembered for its haunted line, "Yet every man kills this that he likes, "And" De Profundis ", his letter of 1897 to Lord Alfred Douglas (the poet at the origin of the expression" the love that does not dare in this document, Wilde, prisoner C33, recounts his relationship with Douglas and the shame that ensued when their homosexual bacchanals – provocatively compared to "feasting on panthers" – were made public and life from the ruined older author.
Wilde's Irish compatriot, W.B. Yeats, who spent much of the 1890s in London, finally commemorated his friends at the Rhymers' Club as a "tragic generation." Of these, Ernest Dowson, who died at age 32, is perhaps the best known nowadays. heart "I've been faithful, Cynara! in my own way, "while Yeats himself admired Lionel Johnson most deeply. A superb narrative of this poet's life, titled "Ritualistic Adorabilities," is the introduction to "Incurable: The Haunted Writings of Lionel Johnson, The Black Angel of the Decadent Era" by Nina Antonia (Strange Attractor Press). Johnson was small, cherubic in appearance, he was exceptionally scholarly in classics, he was sometimes the lover of Lord Alfred Douglas (until the arrival of Wilde) and still thirsty for whiskey or "green devil", absinthe. He died at the age of 35 from a series of attacks caused by alcoholism. "Go from me: I am from those who fall."
What can one say about the decadent decadent, Count Stanislaus Eric Stenbock? Finally, his poetry and prose – never easy to find – are readily available in "Of Kings and Things", edited by David Tibet (Strange Attractor Press). Stenbock was an Estonian aristocrat, educated at Oxford, homosexual and yet deeply Catholic, and a very addicted opium eater. Her work includes the morbid and romantic stories collected under the title "Studies of Death", a dark fairy tale of blue flowers and E.T.A. Hoffmanian transformations called "The other side" and three volumes of melancholy worms:
The eyes! That I did not dare to look,
Lips! That I did not dare to touch …
Will you pray a little for me,
Who has prayed so much for you?
The most anthologized prose work of Stenbock, "The Story of a Vampire," is less a story of terror than an oblique description of a gay or lesbian. Uranian (preferred term of the time) Liebestod: To survive, tormented Count Vardalek must kill what he likes, the faunlike boy Gabriel. Just before his death, at the age of 35, Stenbock was traveling with a wooden doll the size of a child that he treated as if it were human and what was called lovingly his son and his heir.
Readers of a scholarly cycle should definitely look for James Machin's "The Strange Fiction in Great Britain, 1880-1939" (Palgrave Macmillan), which reinserts horror texts into the end-of-the-century canon. century, then follows their insidious tendrils up to the American pulp magazine Weird Tales. Arthur Machen's "The Great God Pan", infused with transgressive sexuality, and Shiel's stories "Shapes in the Fire", composed in a feverish and overworked prose, clearly revel in what the poet Swinburne has Memorably described as "the ravings and roses of vice".
In the spectacular "Pamela Colman Smith: The Unknown Story" (US Games Systems), four scholars – Stuart R. Kaplan, Mary K. Greer, Elizabeth Foley O. Connor and Melinda Boyd Parsons – celebrate the career of A great book and costume artist. designate. Nevertheless, Smith will still be venerated for the hermetic images that she and the occultist A. Waite, of the 1890s, devised for the modern Rider-Waite tarot game. T.S. Eliot's fortune, Mrs. Sosostris, apparently used Smith's "perverse card pack" and deserves the last word for the warning: "I can not find the hanged man. Fear death by the water. "
Michael Dirdaexamine the books every Thursday with style.