The decadent ... always keeps self in the foreground in his art; the self becomes the centre of interest and the standard of value. Experience is valued for its own sake, the more varied the better. The decadent forgets that he is part of the universe and ignores his relationship to other forms of life. This in itself is decadence. [Ryals, ‘Towards a Definition of Decadent as Applied to British Literature of the Nineteenth-Century, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 17 (1958) 85-92; 88]
The most salient of these characteristics of decadence is the attenuation of emotion and the detailed analysis of it. Its great themes are ennui, frustration and moral confusion, all themes of disintegration and alienation. Its general temper is static; there is no sensation of movement; time acquires in this type of novel a spatial quality. Indeed, time and space are fused. .... The hallmark of the novel of decadence is conscious form, not only in structure, but more especially in language. [Haley, ‘Wilde’s Decadence and Positivist Tradition’ Victorian Studies 28 (1985) 215-229; 246]This has quite literally never occurred to me before. My God, is this the kind of writer I am? Am I ... a decadent?