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Glossary of Literary Theory
A late nineteenth century movement whose characteristic slogan, "art
for art's sake," stresses the uselessness of art and divorces aesthetics
from any moral, social, political, or practical concerns. The work of art
is viewed as being isolated from extrinsic reality or nature and as existing
in, of, and for itself. Worshiping the decay and transience of things of
beauty, aestheticism often incorporates decadence, seeing the accursed
poet as a visionary who cultivates a systematic derangement of all the
senses and makes a demented inner voyage into the dark depths of the self.
Decadence luxuriates in the flowers of evil such sophisticated ennui produces.
From Charles Baudelaire's demonics to the dandyism of Oscar Wilde, aestheticism
leads to the modernist cult of the image and
the formalist view of art as a self-enclosed
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