Among the Decadents: Nancy Cunard's Art of Imitation

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This article reads Nancy Cunard’s early poetry against current debates about the relations between modernism and decadence. It recovers Cunard’s early poetry for critical consideration and shows the evolution in her writing from a decadent style to a modernist experimental form. The article thus provides a correction to the tendency to read Cunard only biographically. It studies her early collections Outlaws and Sublunary and reconsiders her long poem Parallax as a self-conscious imitation of Eliot’s The Waste Land to express the feeling of aftermath. By reading Cunard’s work in the context of a continued decadence, it becomes clear to what extent her poetry questions the relations between art and life, past and present, copy and original. The article concludes that Cunard was more than a political activist or socialite. She was also a modern-decadent poet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-609
Issue number3
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Modernism, Decadence, Poetry, Nancy Cunard, T.S. Eliot, Parallax


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