French Decadent Tales, new translations by Stephen Romer / ISBN 9780199569274 / 231-page paperback from Oxford World's Classics
"He had become the dandy of the unpredictable."
A quest for new sensations--and an avowed desire to shock--possessed the Decadent writers of fin-de-siècle Paris. Indeed, the years 1880-1900 saw an extraordinary, hothouse flowering of talent, that produced some of the most exotic, stylized, and cerebral literature in the French language. Death and Eros haunt these pages, and a polymorphous perversity by turns hilarious and horrifying. Their stories teem with addicts, maniacs, and murderers as they strive to outdo each other.
This marvelous selection by Stephen Romer-whose translations brilliantly capture the stylish wit and black humor of the originals--brings together 36 of the best decadent tales from the French fin-de-siècle, including work by well-known writers such as Maupassant, Lorrain, Mirbeau, and Villiers as well as lesser known figures such as Léon Bloy, Jean Richepin, and the Belgian Georges Rodenbach. Romer's engaging introduction provides a full context for the stories, underscoring the principal literary, philosophical, scientific, and political trends of the time, which fed into their authors' loathing of the modern world, and the discovery of the Unconscious.
The book also includes biographical notes on the authors and explanatory notes to clarify cultural references, plus a chronology of the key publications and main events of the period.