That Way Madness Lies

That Way Madness Lies: Max Nordau on Fin-de-Siècle Genius

by Hans-Peter Söder

The intent of this first major English-language volume on Max Nordau's critique of Modernism is to contextualize one of the most popular books of the Fin de Siècle, Max Nordau`s Degeneration. Max Nordau was chiefly responsible for giving the period the negative connotation that rests with it to the present day. Degeneration was the first of three classic text on what we now call Decadence, and between 1890 and 1900 it was one of Europe´s ten bestselling books. But how did it come about that one of the most sensitive literary critics of the time came to dismiss its genius? In analyzing the cultural critiques of the now little-known and seldom-read philosopher Max Nordau, this intellectual biography explicitly shifts attention away from canonized and frequently cannibalized fin-de-siècle authors. Max Nordau's international popularity in his own time is an indication that his concerns for the direction of Modernist culture resonated with his readers. Once Degeneration is seen in its fin-de-siècle context, Max Nordau`s willingness to take on the greatest literary reputations of the late nineteenth century, and his attempt to quench Walter Pater´s famous "hard and gem-like flame" of Decadence appears in a different light.
Hardbound: 15.9 x 23.5 cm.,
260 pp., illustrated.

ISBN 978 1 904201 17 5
£40.00 / $65.00

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 Published 15 November 2009
Rivendale Press
P. O. Box 85, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP14 4WZ England
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