During the final decades of the 19th century, a common mind-set emerged among many intellectuals - "la decadence". Many novels and novellas of the period were populated with protagonists who were fragile, refined, self-absorbed and preoccupied with a trivially exquisite aesthetic. "A Baedeker of Decadence" presents 32 international works of literary decadence written between 1884 and 1927. George Schoolfield offers an entertaining and wide-ranging commentary on this highly significant literary and cultural phenomenon. Schoolfield tracks down the symptoms of decadence in narrative works written in more than a dozen languages, providing synopses and passages in English translation to give a sense of each author's style and tone. Schoolfield throws light on the close intellectual kinship of authors from August Strindberg to Bram Stoker to Thomas Mann, and on the ingredients, themes, motifs and preconceptions that characterized decadent literature.
George C. Schoolfield is professor emeritus of German and Scandinavian literature, Yale University. He is the author, editor, or translator of numerous books, among them A History of Finland's Literature, for which the Swedish Literary Society in Finland awarded him its prestigious Tollander Prize.