Making Decadence New*: Carl Van Vechten’s Cinematic Fiction

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This chapter focuses on the relationship between Decadence and cinema through a study of the novels of Carl Van Vechten. As neo-Decadence emerged in America in the 1920s writers responded to a range of new technologies largely unknown to earlier writers such as Wilde. Van Vechten embraced the new media of cinema, writing novels about and treatments for Hollywood and the cinema industry. He saw Hollywood through the eyes of a Decadent and Decadence through the lens of a movie camera. From Van Vechten’s second novel, The Blind Bow-Boy (1923), through Spider Boy: A Scenario for a Moving Picture (1928), to his final novel Parties: Scenes from Contemporary New York Life (1930) his Decadent style depicted the excesses of Hollywood while being formally shaped by the visual and narrative modes of cinema.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDecadence
Subtitle of host publicationA Literary History
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781108640527
ISBN (Print)9781108426299
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2020.


  • Carl Van Vechten
  • cinema
  • Hollywood
  • neo-Decadence
  • the novel form


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