The Structure of Romantic Decadence

The eighteenth-century man of feeling, caught between desire and incapability, looked for modes of organizing experience that emphasized coherence and proportion. Rousseau was paradigmatic, discovering an Eden that was both paradisal enclosure and prison. Versions followed elsewhere in Rousseau, in Chateaubriand, Stendhal and Huysmans. The enclosure also came to be a place within which one fed on one's own substance, endlessly generated in a process of cyclical self consumption. The final parody is in Huysmans's decadent enclosure in A rebours, cut off from the analogy to organic nature that gave life to the Romantic enclosure. (FMG)

Garber, Frederick M
Volume 1973 Winter; 1(2): 84-104.