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Chapter one defines and historically situates the intersections among decadence, ecology, and the pagan revival in literature and art. Noting ecological, scientific, classist, nationalist, and imperialist aspects of decadence in its earliest articulations, focus is given to the shifting formulations of modern decadence in particular by such influential writers as Charles Baudelaire, Paul Bourget, and Max Nordau, the chapter offers close analyses of works by Algernon Swinburne such as his poem ‘The Leper’ (1866) and the Pre-Raphaelite artist Frederick Sandys such as his painting Medea (1868) that demonstrate the complex interplay across these concepts.
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