In Cynara's Shadow: Collected Essays on Ernest Dowson

Condé, Alice and Gossling, Jessica, eds. 2019. In Cynara's Shadow: Collected Essays on Ernest Dowson. Oxford: Peter Lang. ISBN 9781787076266 [Edited Book]

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Abstract or Description

In the 120 years since the publication of his first poetry collection, Verses (1896), Ernest Dowson has become something of a Decadent legend, much anthologized and referenced in almost every study of English Decadent literature, but still considered a minor figure of the fin de siècle. He is, in fact, an important intermediary figure between late nineteenth-century Decadence and literary Modernism, and in this first collection of critical essays devoted solely to Dowson, we draw him out of the shadows and acknowledge his talent and legacy. The essays in this volume are by established and emergent Dowson scholars and offer new perspectives on some of the overlooked aspects of Dowson’s oeuvre, including considerations of Catholicism and Paganism, desire and sexuality, space and place, and his poetic resonance in twentieth-century literature.

The collection takes the format of a dual focus on Dowson’s texts and their contexts. The first section consists of close readings of Dowson’s works including his two poetry collections Verses and Decorations (1899), the little-studied short fiction (collected in Dilemmas in 1895) and the ‘dramatic phantasy’ The Pierrot of the Minute (1897). The second section reconceptualizes Dowson’s life and literature in the context of his relationships with other literary figures of his age such as Aubrey Beardsley and Paul Verlaine. This study engages with the complex critical positioning of Dowson’s works, establishing him as a poet of paradoxes: both medievalist and modernist, spiritual and profane, and torn between hedonism and asceticism.

Item Type:

Edited Book

Identification Number (DOI):


Ernest Dowson, Decadence, fin de siècle, nineteenth century, Victorian, poetry, short stories, Verses (1896), Decorations (1899), Dilemmas (1895), The Pierrot of the Minute (1897)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature
English and Comparative Literature > Decadence Research Unit



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

03 Jan 2018 16:06

Last Modified:

01 Oct 2020 11:06


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