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Chapter 4 - Fighting Like Cats and Dogs

Decadence and Print Media

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2020

Alex Murray
Affiliation:
Queen's University Belfast
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Summary

This chapter examines the often vexed relationship between literary Decadence and the media in Britain. While writers such as Wilde may have espoused elitist doctrines, they relied on print media to publish, popularize and denigrate their work. Decadence was then caught up in a complex web of financial, cultural and political forces that demanded it engage with the mass media it ostensibly despised. The chapter begins with a study of avant-garde publishing, beginning with the Century Guild Hobby Horse before moving on to those flagship Decadent periodicals The Yellow Book and The Savoy, examining how these outlets negotiated, with varying success, a competitive marketplace. In opposition to these self-consciously elite productions, the chapter places the relentless mockery of Decadence in publications like Punch, where figures such as Wilde and Beardsley were regularly parodied. Yet Decadent writers often published in conservative newspapers and journals, with figures such as Ada Leverson lampooning her friends. The vituperative attack and the sharply observed satire were an essential part of a literary marketplace in which Decadence, all too briefly, thrived.

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Decadence
A Literary History
, pp. 87 - 101
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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