The decadence of the West in Huysmans and Houellebecq: Decadence in the Longue Durée
English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920
Reason for embargo
This article expands on Gagnier's seminal discussions in works such as Individualism, Decadence and Globalization: On the Relationship of Part to Whole, 1859–1920 and "The Global Literatures of Decadence." Decadence has always functioned as a textual and social strategy, one historically and globally used to critique the relation of part to whole. It resurfaces as a marker of a social civic order in despair and disrepair. We may ask whether the decadence of current populism—its racism, violence, anti-intellectualism, and crude polarized oppositions—indicates a permanent decline or is rather the last gasp before some future graceful submission to higher social forms than are currently offered. In contrast to our current condition, Huysmans's description, as mediated by Houellebecq, has all the comfort and all the escapism of that now generalized and commodified fantasy of the Danish fantasy of home and coziness called hygge.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from ELT Press via the URL in this record.
Vol. 60, No. 4, pp. 419 - 430