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Bodies Resounding: Writing Music in Decadent Literature

Riddell, Fraser (2021) 'Bodies Resounding: Writing Music in Decadent Literature.', in Oxford Handbook of Decadence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


This article explores the significance of the body in decadent writing about music. It focuses on the fictional and nonfictional writings of the American journalist and critic James Gibbons Huneker (1857–1921). Huneker’s texts demonstrate the striking ways in which literary decadence aligns musical experience with nervous illness and madness, how it dwells on the materiality of sound as it is sensed through the body, and how it frames musical talent as fundamentally shaped by the gender, sexuality, and race of performers and listeners. The article concludes by examining those decadent musical cultures that Huneker’s writings overlook, such as the Harlem Renaissance, to demonstrate how literary texts present new modes of decadent community emerging from embodied and affective responses to music.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 31 July 2023.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:Bodies Resounding: Writing Music in Decadent Literature by Fraser Riddell, 2021, reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press,
Date accepted:01 January 2021
Date deposited:29 September 2021
Date of first online publication:July 2021
Date first made open access:31 July 2023

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