Salomé: History and Decadence

Barbara Ann Brown


This article explores the oppositions and paradoxes of the representation of the story of Salome and John the Baptist in late nineteenth century French Symbolist poetics by basing the discussion on French dandyism and using Eliot Aronson's concept of cognitive dissonance. It engages the literary and artistic representations of Salome in Joris-Karl Huysmans's Á rebors, Stéphane Mallarmé's "Hérodiade," the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, artistic representations of Salome by Gustav Moreau, and the historical account of the death of John the Baptist by Flavius Josephus. I show how, in the late nineteenth century, French Symbolists reconciled issues between the "fallen institutions" of politics and religion by focusing on Salome and John the Baptist to illustrate the Dandy's reconciliation and substitution of authority within Modernism.    


nineteenth century; French Symbolism; French dandyism; Salome; Modernism

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