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  • Astrakhan - The Decadent Generation.

    Astrakhan (As'-Tra-Kan). [From Astrakhana, a city and province in Russia] Originally in Russia this was a name given to skins having a short, curly wool - particularly the pelts obtained from young lambs from the province of Astrakhana. At present Astrakhan cloth is silk or worsted material with a long and closely curled pile, in imitation of the fur above mentioned, and is used for ladies' cloaks, dress trimming and men's clothing. Astrakhan wool trimming is made in 10-yard lengths, and in 3-inch, 4-inch and 5-inch widths, the price increasing with the width. It is a durable and showy trimming.

    A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods (George S. Cole, 1892).

    ~~~

    The Decadent Movement.


    The Decadent movement was a late nineteenth-century artistic and literary movement that occurred in Western Europe and primarily France. It is now regarded as a transition between Romanticism and Modernism.

    The Second Decadent Generation.

    The fourth major figure of the first decadent generation was Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907), who turned to the decadent ideal in 1884 with the famous A Rebours (known in English as Against the Grain or Against Nature). A reference for his fellow writers, Huysmans tells in A Rebours the story of Des Esseintes - a character based on existing Comte Robert de Montesquiou (1855-1921) - a dandy who voluntarily secluded himself to escape reality and live an artificial life that combined illusion, sadism, neurosis and elitism. Later on, Huysmans converted to Catholicism, like many other Decadents.


    Max Elskamp, L'Alphabet de Notre-Dame la Vierge.
    (Nef de sécurité/Ship of Security, 1901).

    The second decadent generation, very influenced by its predecessor, started with authors born in the 1850s. Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) was part of this generation. The lover of Paul Verlaine, Rimbaud wanted to translate the unsconscious vacillation of mental life in his poems. The author of Une Saison en Enfer (1873) and Illuminations (1886), he also wrote a famous sonnet, Voyelles, in which he freed words from their meaning to use them in a strict combination based on structure and sonority.

    In Belgium, poet Emile Verhaeren (1855-1916), a reader of Nietzsche, studied law before co-founding the publication L'Art Moderne. Verhaeren published works such as Les Moines (1886), Les Soirs (1887), Les Débâcles (1888) and Les Flambeaux Noirs (1891)*
    . Belgium was also represented by poet and novelist Georges Rodenbach** (1855-1898), as well as Charles van Lerberghe (1861-1907) and Max Elskamp (1862-1931).

    The Decadent Generation.

    ~~~


    Frontispiece by Fernand Khnopff
    for Joséphin Péladan’s Istar (1888).


    *It is of particular interest to us in England that a great part of these three books was written in London, where Verhaeren spent some time in great loneliness, knowing no English, and collecting impressions, not only for the trilogy of disease, but also for the greater trilogy of the tentacular city which was to come later. One of his favourite occupations in London is said to have been travelling to problematic destinations on the underground: this, no doubt, was as near as he could get to Hell.

    In " Les Villes," one of the poems of Les Flambeaux Noir the poet, after describing London, exclaims : " Here is the City in gold of red alchemies, where thou canst melt thy mind in a new crucible."


    Jethro Bitell, Contemporary Belgian Literature, pp. 129-130.

    **In his best known work, Bruges-la-Morte (1892), Rodenbach explains that his aim is to evoke the town as a living being, associated with the moods of the spirit, counselling, dissuading from and prompting action. Rodenbach interspersed his text with dozens of black-and-white photographs of Bruges.

    ~~~
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Hi Pilgrim

    Many thanks for sharing with this information on Astrakhan fabric as well as the The Decadent Movement in European literature. Not sure though if you are saying there is a link between the suspect described by George Hutchinson whom we refer to as Astrakhan man and the Decadent movement? It's not clear from your post at least on my reading.

    All the best

    Chris
    Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
    https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

    Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
    Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

    Comment


    • #3
      "Showy", Decadent & Satanic.

      Thanks, Chris.

      My post was first meant to be answering a question on another thread (#87), but then I made this one instead. That Dictionary from 1892 said showy. It seems to me that Hutchinson's description does not quite fit just any average upper middle-class individual. Some details may of course have been imperfectly described, or may perhaps even have been added while attempting to convey a general impression. But that impression would surely seem to be of a, quite literally, "showy" character.

      If Hutchinson did see someone like that accompanying Kelly, it would have to be a, very literally, showy and decadent character. If Hutchinson saw her with that man at that time, it does seem highly probable that it must have been Kelly's murderer. Which, to my mind, suggests a showy, decadent and in a certain sense satanic character.

      And within the Decadent Movement the extravagance, or showiness of "Dandyism" was, also, clearly linked to a "satanic" conception of sexuality. The idea of making life itself a work of art was another important side to that movement. So, I would say, yes, it may have been someone in some way immersed within that movement.

      ~~~

      Children at this stage still have great difficulty with verbal or hypothetical objects. Therefore, they are very literal-minded; they interpret situations concretely, failing to understand abstractions. Presented with an abstract idea they will convert the abstraction into a concrete event relevant to their experiences. However, as Piaget himself noted, development does not always progress in the smooth manner that his theory seems to predict.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Piaget
      Attached Files

      Comment


      • #4
        And the Decadents became proselytizers.

        "For a long time now dishonorable purposes have roused in us little sense of revulsion, and today an avenue of monuments rises that will consecrate the ignominous despoilment of the human spirit and its enslavement by damnable numerical abstraction. It happens that a class of men whose hearts have remained as unspoiled as their hands by any share of the gold that has soiled us all - I mean the people - are gathering the remains of art [that are still unsoiled]. Their purity of heart and their naive spirit are preserving art in its [rightful] abode. And when those who had increasingly become confined to the tallest [ivory] towers by an infinite disgust with material things and an overwhelming uneasiness in the face of ordinary human dealings recognized this new potential, they joyfully sacrificed their isolation and went to the People's Palace. And the decadents became proselytizers. They joined the tumultuous crowd marching confidently toward a glorious future." --Henry van de Velde, Les XX lecture (1893).

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Pilgrim

          Mmmmm, "decadent" and "dandy" conjures up the idea of someone like Oscar Wilde, an artiste who would have fitted well in the aesthetic milieu of the Decadent Movement. Rather, it would seem to me that the man Hutchinson described was more like a nouveau riche businessman, a man who flaunts his wealth with little taste, in contrast to the fashionable, artsy type of individual you appear to be indicating you think Astrakhan might have been. My two cents.

          All the best

          Chris
          Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
          https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

          Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
          Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

          Comment


          • #6
            Not quite Oscar Wilde, I would agree with that. I have also been thinking that it could seem like someone that quite suddenly did, quite literally, become "nouveau riche" in some way, perhaps someone even celebrating something. Still, I think the "decadent movement" is relevant. I don't think most of the people immersed within that movement looked all that much different from businessmen dressing for the right or, as it were, wrong occasion.

            ...
            ...Theo van Rysselberghe, Portrait of Octave Maus (1884),
            ...lawyer, art critic, co-founder of the weekly Art Moderne
            ...in 1881, secretary of Les XX from 1884.

            ...~~~

            ...
            ...Theo van Rysselberghe, The Reading by Emile Verhaeren (1903).

            Comment


            • #7
              Camille Lemonnier, ‘L’Homme qui tue les femmes’.

              Geoff Woollen (1995) and Philippe Hamon (1994) have pointed out the probable influence on Zola of a short story by the Belgian petit naturaliste Camille Lemonnier, ‘L’Homme qui tue les femmes’, which appeared in Gil Blas on 2 November 1888, and which was also inspired by the Whitechapel killings. Lemonnier’s treatment of the subject matter is, however, very different from Zola’s. The first-person narrative is voiced by the murderer, who comments at one point: ‘Je lègue à la science […] l’être pervers et compliqué qui pour moi demeura un insondable problème’. (cited in Hamon 1994,135). Lemonnier’s hero expresses a dissociation from the unknowable part of himself that feels the need to kill, while Jacques Lantier (in Zola's 'La Bête humaine') asks endless questions about the cause of his condition, expressed via style indirect libre. Musing on the origins of his sexual inclination, Jacques [Lantier] wonders : ‘cela venait-il donc de si loin, du mal que les femmes avaient fait à sa race, de la rancune amassée de male en male depuis la première tromperie […]?’ . Where Lemonnier’s text is keen to leave intact the mystery of homicidal desire, and issues (what we may read as) a challenge to science to explain it, Zola’s text attempts to take further scientific understanding of the phenomenon of inherited criminality, by inserting partial answers consistent with the ideologies of heredity and degeneration into the formulations of Jacques’s self-interrogation.

              The Birth of the Beast: Death-Driven Masculinity in Monneret, Zola and Freud.


              George Frederic Watts, The Minotaur (1885), inspired
              by reading The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon
              by William Thomas Stead.

              ~~~

              Lemonnier wrote numerous different versions of ‘L’Homme qui tue les femmes’, the last one published in Gil Blas (1893) significantly different from the first one in 1882 (Dames de Volupté).

              ~~~

              New York Times, October 17, 1893 -
              Attached Files

              Comment


              • #8
                Modernism. Decadence & Conversion.

                ....
                Originally posted by Pilgrim
                Originally posted by Pilgrim

                All the great works of decadent literature are conversion narratives.
                Verlaine's passage from Romances sans Paroles to Sagesse to Parallelement to Amour follows his own conversion from the profane to the pious and back again, as does Huysmans' passage from À Rebours (Against the Grain or Against Nature) to En Route. À Rebours ends with the desperate prayer of Des Esseintes*, in whose mystical idiosyncracies Huysmans captured the first glimmerings of his own faith. Là-Bas (translated as “Down There” or “The Damned”) is also a conversion narrative in that it contains the repentance of the medieval satanist Gilles de Rais. Pater's Marius the Epicurean offers a series of conversions through a number of antique philosophies and culminates in a tenuous embrace of Christianity. Even Dorian Grey contemplates conversion during a somber celebration of the Mass - an uncanny premonition of Wilde's own deathbed drama of submission to the Church.

                No other literary movement can claim so many converts to Rome. The most famous, and certainly the most influential, of decadent conversions was that of Huysmans. Having lost the faith of his childhood, he established his literary reputation as a naturalist and materialist. In the 1880s, however, he grew dissatisfied with what he saw as the mechanistic psychologism of Zola and Charcot, and he developed what came to be known as a decadent style in an effort to define the spiritual and mystical aspirations of literature. The perverse eroticism and hysterical mysticism of books like À Rebours and Là-Bas gave him a certain notoriety, and so his conversion in 1892 was greeted with considerable surprise. After his conversion, Huysmans wrote a string of autobiographical fictions, his so-called Catholic novels, that further trace the development of his religious opinions. Some of the Catholic novels actually sold more copies than À Rebours, and they apparently incited a number of conversions among his readers. Eventually, he became a Benedictine oblate, a person associated with a monastery but not bound by the same vows as the monks. Beginning with En Route, he replaced the explicit eroticism of his earlier work with an equally bizarre and violent mysticism. Although the style is somewhat more tame, it is still highly idiosyncratic and decadent. As Arthur Symons quipped, "His style is always the same, whether he writes of a butcher's shop or of a stained window."


                Decadence and Catholicism, pp. 10-11.
                By Ellis Hanson
                Originally posted by Pilgrim View Post

                "
                For a long time now dishonorable purposes have roused in us little sense of revulsion, and today an avenue of monuments rises that will consecrate the ignominous despoilment of the human spirit and its enslavement by damnable numerical abstraction. It happens that a class of men whose hearts have remained as unspoiled as their hands by any share of the gold that has soiled us all - I mean the people - are gathering the remains of art [that are still unsoiled]. Their purity of heart and their naive spirit are preserving art in its [rightful] abode.
                And when those who had increasingly become confined to the tallest [ivory] towers by an infinite disgust with material things and an overwhelming uneasiness in the face of ordinary human dealings recognized this new potential, they joyfully sacrificed their isolation and went to the People's Palace. And the decadents became proselytizers. They joined the tumultuous crowd marching confidently toward a glorious future." --Henry van de Velde, Les XX lecture (1893).
                ~~~
                (*V*)

                Comment

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