Decadentism and aestheticism

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DECADENTISM AND AESTHETICISM
The decadent movement developed in the last 30 years of the 19th century. It was born in France with Teophile Gautier and Huysmans.
They reflected their disgustation against the materialism and the restrictive moral code of the bourgeois. So the french artists withdrew from the political and social scene, isolating from society, in what Gautier called “ART FOR ART’S SAKE”. This decadent expression was claimed in the collexction of “Emaeux et camees”, where he stated that the art or beauty in art will survive over life and time, so life is eternal.
He was a member of the Parnassians movement, a group of french poets who challenged the old romantics and wished the pursuit of stylistic perfection in all fields of art.
In the novel of Huysmans, the hero, disgusted by the vulgarity of modern life and disillusioned with love, decides to retire in a house where he built a world of absolute perfection and devote himself to the cult of beauty and pleasure.
In England, Victorian compromise had created a greed middle-class, whose aims were cappitalism in economy, positivism and materialism in philosophy, and naturalism in art. The decadent artist was disgusted against this socila situation a took refuge outside the society, by isolating himself and writing a kind of work based on sensation, beauty and a refined style.
The main theorist of decadeentism was Walter Pater, who claimed the importance of life as “A WORK OF ART”. According to him, the decadent artist has to fill his life with sensation and intuition that a simple man cannot perceive, and write them in form of art.
So the arrtist is considered an aesthete and his works are based on the sensation, refined style and the search for beauty.
The maximum exponent in english literary aestheticism was Oscar Wilde, while in Italy the main reprasentative was Gabriele D’Annunzio, both follores of Huysmans’ book.

OSCAR WILDE
Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854 into an intellectual Irish family, belonged to the wealthy potestant minority. Because of his mother wanted a doughter, for the first years she dressed him as a girl.
He attended the Trinity College, and then studeid to Oxford, where he took a degree. He started adopting an extravagant behaviour: he derssed exotically, wore his hair long, decorated his room with sunflowers. He became a follower of Walter Pater’s doctrine, whose philosophy was the sympathy with the poor and outcast.
In 1882 he went to USA on a lecture tour. In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, who gave him two children. The first works he wrote were a collectrion of fairy tales,such as “the Happy Prince”. His masterpiece was “the Picture Of Dorian Gray”, in which he expressed his aesthetic creed. His succes came with the comedies: “Lady Windermere’s Fan”, “an Ideal Husband”, “A Woman Of No Importance”, and “The Importance Of Being Ernest”. He wrote a novel “Salomè”, in French, but because of the language used and the biblical theme, it was censured. However it was performed in Paris, and Strauss himself wrote the musiv for its libretto. 1895 was a turning point in his life: he had a relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, son of the Marquis of Queensbury. The marquis accused Oscar for the homosexual relationship with his son. So Oscar was tried and improsoned for two years. When he came out of the prison, he wrote “The Reading Goal”. He spent his last years by wanderoing in Europe and died on 30 November 1900.

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