Synopses & Reviews
Hideous Absinthe boldly combines the art, literature, science, and social history of the nineteenth century to produce the story of a drink that came to symbolize both the high points of art and the depths of degeneration.
Jad Adams looks at the myths of absinthe and examines its influence on the artistic movements of the nineteenth century. He considers the work of Degas, Manet, and Picasso, who painted what are now considered masterpieces depicting absinthe drinkers. He examines the mystery of van Gogh's absinthe addiction and asks whether absinthe truly did contribute to the poetic vision of Verlaine, Rimbaud, and other writers.
Adams looks back at absinthe's contribution to the hedonistic culture of the French Second Empire and to Toulouse-Lautrec's Paris of the 1890s and details the outraged English reaction to absinthe in the context of resistance to French art. Absinthe was seen as a foreign poison undermining the national resolve just as the decadence of Oscar Wilde and his circle was seen to undermine national culture.
The story continues through thrill-seeking American and English absinthe drinkers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Copublished with I.B. Tauris.
The Wisconsin edition is for sale only in North America.
Mysteriously sophisticated, darkly alluring, almost Satanic: absinthe was the drink of choice for Baudelaire, Verlaine and Wilde. It inspired paintings by Degas and Manet, van Gogh and Picasso. It was blamed for conditions ranging from sterility to madness, to French defeats in World War I. The campaign against "the devil in a bottle" resulted in its ban throughout most of Europe. Its reputation for toxicity eventually extinguished the fin-de-siècle's infatuation with absinthe, but not before it had influenced generations of artists on both sides of the channel. This book is a biography of "the green fairy": from its place in the lives of writers and artists who were inspired--and ruined--by it, to its more recent rediscovery by Ernest Hemingway and todays would-be sophisticates.
About the Author
Jad Adams is a television producer whose last book Madder Music, Stronger Wine: The Life of Ernest Dowson, Poet and Decadent (I.B.Tauris), received resounding critical praise in Britain and the US. He has also written biographies of Tony Benn and of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
Table of Contents
* Illustrations * Acknowledgment * Introduction: The Devil Made Liquid * Bitter Beginnings * The Green Hour and the New Art * Absinthe for the People * Poets Breaking the Rules * Madmen of Art * The Absinthe Binge * English Decadence and French Morals * Anglo-Saxon Attitudes * Absinthe Paranoia * Twilight of the Fée Verte * Green in the USA * Pop Goes the Fairy * Appendix * Notes on the Text * Select Bibliography * Index *