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Publication Details

Decadent Families: Social, Political, Lite- rary and Linguistic Portraits of the fin de siècle Writers

(Original title: Les « familles » décadentes : étranges profils (social, politique, littéraire et linguistique) des écrivains fin de siècle)
Filozofia, 68 (2013), Supplementary Issue 2: L’Individu et la famille, 103-111.
Type of work: Papers
Publication language: French

The terms “decadence“ and “family“ appear incompatible on the surface, at least after André Gide symbolically responded to Zola’s Les Rougon-Macquart, Natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire by his novel Paludes, “a story of an old young man living in a log cabin in the middle of the swamp“. The majority of reclusive heroes of their novels in fact live more or less separated from the society in the world of their own choice and taste, where they can freely laugh at their period’s determinism. Nevertheless, this article tries to incorporate decadents into a certain community, a more precisely de- fined “family“ of a kind. First of all it draws conclusions from sociological criteria proving, that most of these authors come from the same milieu and their follow-up professional careers are oriented similarly. What decadents share is mainly their “boulangism“ in politics, which, however, is often rather a dandy provocation than a real ideological commitment. Any classification based on literary salons or groups, where writers of “fin de siècle“ belonged, is questionable considering the instability of the literary field of that time; thematic comparisons do not bring any valuable results neither. Here the linguistic stylistic definition seems to be the most convenient: “To the family of decadents belong those, who use decadent language.“ Therefore, the last part of the article offers a brief analysis of the morphology and syntax of this specific language, as well as numerous text examples of its use.


Elitism, French decadence, Language, Modern sociology, Political systems