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The Arts of Decadence

Chancellor's Hall - Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Featuring speakers Martin Sorrell, Lene Østermark-Johansen, Peter Manson and Helen Abbott, along with live performances by Kate Howden (mezzo-soprano), Edmund Danon (baritone) accompanied by Satoshi Kubo (piano) from the National Opera Studio

Music will include fabulous song settings by the French composer Fauré, Ravel, Debussy and Dupace


The Decadent Movement in arts and literature reached its height in the 1890s and early 1900s. It was characterised by fin de siècle style and a questioning of accepted social, political and sexual values and norms. Its most famous representatives include French poets like Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Verlaine, but its influence spread rapidly to the English-speaking world thanks to the tireless advocacy of Arthur Symons and figures such as Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley and WB Yeats. Its impact was also felt across the arts including fine art, architecture and music.

This special event is a celebration of the multifarious arts of decadence and their contribution to the development of new art forms and cultural movements across the English-speaking world.

Martin Sorrell is Emeritus Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Exeter, and has a special interest in decadent literature;

Lene Østermark-Johansen is Associate Professor of English literature at the University of Copenhagen, with a special interest in decadent art;

Peter Manson is a Scottish poet and translator based in Glasgow, whose works include Stéphane Mallarmé: The Poems in Verse, published to acclaim by Miami University Press in 2012;

and Helen Abbott, Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham, who specialises in 19th century French poetry and music, and who leads the Baudelaire Music Project.

Music will be performed by National Opera Studio (NOS) singers Kate Howden (mezzo-soprano) and Edmund Danon (baritone) accompanied by Satoshi Kubo (piano). NOS exists to train a select group of talented young musicians each year to become the leading artists of their generation with the aim of making a significant contribution to the opera ecology and the wider creative and cultural life of the UK through the provision of top-quality professional training.

This event is held in partnership with the AHRC Network: ‘Decadence and Translation’, led by Dr Matthew Creasy (University of Glasgow) and Professor Stefano-Maria Evangelista (Trinity College, Oxford).

This public event concludes the ‘Publishing Decadence in Translation’ conference being held at the Senate House earlier the same day. This one-day roundtable event is bringing together scholars, translators and publishers to discuss the practicalities and pitfalls of publishing Decadent texts in translation for a contemporary market.

How to Book

The event will be held from 6.30pm on Tuesday 12th February in the Chancellor's Hall, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU.

The event itself will commence promptly at 7.00pm, and will last about 90 minutes, without an interval.

This event is free of charge but please RSVP in advance to info@rimbaudverlaine.org to reserve a place. Please reserve your place now to avoid disappointment!