Le Dandysme : oeuvre d'art ou artifice?

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Dandyism is a phenomenon in human behavior which reached its zenith in the early days of nineteenth century England. Of ail the dandies who graced British society, George Brummell stood out as the most accomplished of them ail. However, its universal appeal gave dandyism the impetus to travel abroad- not in its superficial manifestation of mere elegance of dress and manners, but as an expression of a certain attitude toward the human condition. On the wings of Lord Byron's poetry it crossed the Channel in order to establish itself firmly in the realm of literature on the Continent. French writers were particularly susceptible to the charm of the artistic refinement which characterized the representatives of dandyism. In the works of Stendhal and Balzac, elegance and a superior attitude served as a ladder for the social climbers; with Barbey d'Aurevilly and Baudelaire dandyism became a shield to hide a sensitive man's despair in a world which had lost its meaning. Barbey laid down the rules for behavior- Baudelaire internalized and deepened the concept in order to create a modus vivendi for the decadent man of the declining century. [...]

Dandies, Dandies in literature