Book Reviews / 133 Robert Ziegler. Beauty Raises the Dead: Literature and Loss in the Fin de Siècle. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2002. 189 pp. In Beauty Raises the Dead: Literature and Loss in the Fin de Siècle, Robert Ziegler uses psychoanalytic theories of mourning to analyze the relationship between decadent authors' melancholy and the art they produced. Instead of seeing decadent literature as simply a product of the melancholic imagination, Ziegler argues that the fundamental experience of decadent creativity was part of a complex process of mourning; the work of art itself thus comes to compensate for the loss it works through. The limits of this process--and the obstacles it creates for the artist--are what distinguish the work of individual decadent authors as they struggle to come to terms with their competing desires. Ziegler's study, which brings together thoughtful readings of texts by such writers as Lorrain, Rachilde, Villiers, Mirbeau and Huysmans among others, seeks in part to offer a new definition of a movement that has often eluded simple categories. For Ziegler, the decadent text grapples with the cycles of life--birth, childhood, aging, loss, death-- at the same time as it struggles with the processes
French Forum – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Nov 15, 2004
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