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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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Closely Apart

Closely Apart

Aestheticising the Non-Encounter

(p.152) Chapter 7 Closely Apart
The Decadent Image

Kostas Boyiopoulos

Edinburgh University Press

Continuing looking at Dowson’s poems alongside some of his other texts, chapter 7 focuses on responses to idealised objects of desire by formulating a poetics of infinitesimal apartness, or non-encounter, with the object of desire. Ironically Dowson’s speakers lament the passing of the ideal moment prematurely; again what they desire, paradoxically, is not the satisfaction of desire but desire itself. Dowson, the chapter argues, perverts the conventions of medieval Courtly Love as his poems attend to the so-called princesse lointaine, the far-away princess of romance; the inaccessibility of such a figure is managed with tropes of synecdochism, fetishism and servility. Ultimately, by proxy of the far-away princess the Dowsonian speaker confronts his own self-isolation, a state that is further highlighted in the icy preservations and poetic refashioning of dead little girls.

Keywords:   Ernest Dowson, apartness, eroticism, Courtly Love, synecdoche, fetishism, desire, medieval romance, little girls, the dead girl

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