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Defining Modernism

Baudelaire and Nietzsche on Romanticism, Modernity, Decadence, and Wagner

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Andrea Gogröf-Voorhees and Andrea Gogröf-Voorhees

Defining Modernism investigates the intellectual connections among three leading nineteenth-century European modernists – Baudelaire, Nietzsche, and Richard Wagner. Through a close reading of Baudelaire’s and Nietzsche’s essays on art and culture, Wagner’s role in the two writers’ attempts to define the radically new concept of «modernism» is elucidated. Gogröf-Voorhees explores the affinity between the two writers, which emerges from a juxtaposition of their formulations of the idea of a fractured, contradictory modernity that at once embraces, scatters, and reevaluates an entire constellation of ideas, including romanticism, pessimism, decadence, and nihilism.