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The Decadent ImageThe Poetry of Wilde, Symons, and Dowson$
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Kostas Boyiopoulos

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748690923

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748690923.001.0001

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Strangeness and the City

Strangeness and the City

The Self among Fragmented Impressions

(p.79) Chapter 4 Strangeness and the City
The Decadent Image

Kostas Boyiopoulos

Edinburgh University Press

Moving on to Arthur Symons poetry, chapter 4 argues that in Silhouettes (1892) and London Nights (1895) the fragmented, impressionistic sensations and images of the city mirror the poet’s fragmented consciousness and state of mind. The city is a matrix of darkness and light that limits and specialises the art of gazing. Through their impressionistic lens, Symons’s speakers are flâneurs that perceive the phantasmagorias of London, or Paris, from new angles and perspectives. The city becomes a gigantic textual tangle of artificiality that invites deciphering. In this sense, the female figures populating it with their masks of make-up and dress are textual enigmas. The sexual encounter within private quarters, or the constellation of dancers in the music hall, becomes a mirror of the city exterior.

Keywords:   Arthur Symons, the city, self-reflexivity, fragmentation, strangeness, Impressionism, artificiality, flâneur, dancers, gazing

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