The Dedalus Book of Russian Decadence
Perversity, Despair & Collapse
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'A journey to the dark side in this collection of horrifying dramatic and erotic stories and poetry never before translated into English, delving into the darkest depths of humanity. This read is definitely not for the faint hearted, with its morbid tales of death, cruelty, sensuality and corruption.' Kate Griffin in The Big Issue 'By the end of the 19th century hope in Russia that literature might have provided either political or spiritual salvation had withered, leaving writers ripe to fall under the spell of JK Huysmans' apocalyptic decadence. The French-born movement, which espoused the notion that 'civilisation is in decline, reality as it exists is contemptible, and that the decadent hero, who is neurotic and sexually deviant, must create an alternative world for himself alone', had a direct appeal to writers such as Valery Briusov and Feodor Sologub. However, what overthrew that civilisation ensured that a literature concerned with perversity, despair and collapse was hardly known for much of the 20th century. The stories and poems here wallow in lust, madness and death. Briusovs 'Now that I'm Awake' is Poe taken to extremes when a husband discovers that a drug-induced fantasy with his innocent wife is real. Sologub's 'The Poisoned Garden' is ruled by a femme fatale and plays with the fairy-tale genre. Lodges collection is not to be taken in large helpings, but it is a welcome introduction to an important strand of Russian literature.' Isobel Montgomery in The Guardian
- Dedalus Limited, October 2012
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