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Spanish American writers’ engagement with Decadence in the fin de siècle entailed a careful negotiation of ideas about their own region’s future and its historical evolution within the Western world. Their position regarding Decadence repeatedly turns to a discussion of the New World’s geopolitical and artistic position, keeping an eye on Spain’s decline in the global landscape of the fin de siècle. To illustrate these transatlantic negotiations, Blanco engages with the writing of several Spanish figures from the fin de siècle who dealt with Decadence’s controversial arrival in Spanish America. A central figure in this discussion is the Nicaraguan writer Rubén Darío, spin doctor of modernismo and a principal recipient of the ‘Decadent’ label throughout the 1890s and beyond. A writer who moved across different urban centres from Spanish America to Europe, Darío was a prime theorist of new literary developments in the region. As Blanco argues, while modernismo took in Decadence’s poetic energy as well as its diverse artistic work ethic, it had to become something else to breathe new life in Spanish American letters.
In the 1880s, the New York-based Century Magazine was a regular home for Henry James’s fiction and criticism. His first major intervention on the theory of fiction in the magazine is his July 1883 essay on Anthony Trollope (published over a year before Century printed his now canonical consideration ‘The Art of Fiction’). The essay represents, perhaps unsurprisingly, a highly nuanced view of the literary scene in which allegiances circle and return and reputations are diminished and then rebuilt. Trollope’s posthumously-published autobiography appeared three months after James’s essay and seemed to confirm many of the latter’s anxieties about the business of writing. This chapter explores James’s contorted reading of Trollope as a literary precursor who is both criticised for his immoderate, promiscuous productivity and, at the same time, recuperated as a moderate sensibility standing opposed to the scientific avant-gardism of the French naturalist tradition. By exploring the complex national allegiances of an American author writing in a proudly American journal about a recently-deceased, and highly popular, English novelist, I consider the ways in which James attempts to carve out for himself a transatlantic space where the metaphoric possibilities of moderation and its antonyms find a restless purchase.
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