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The Fin-de-Siècle 'Femme Fatale' and the God Pan

Luca Ambrogiani


This study offers a reading of the widespread character type of the ‘Femme Fatale’ which focuses on the developments of this figure as a trope of Decadent literature in British works of the 1890s. In particular, the paper finds an element of comparison between the Decadent orientation towards an instrumental depiction of the Orient and the portrayal, in theater and fiction, of mysterious and seductive women corresponding to the trope. The texts used to illustrate the functional role of these female characters are Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé and Arthur Machen’s novella The Great God Pan, both of which employ aestheticizing strategies that are meant to elevate the object of desire by making it inaccessible. These strategies are ultimately defined as a process of identification between Wilde’s and Machen’s female protagonists and the features, or remnants, of a remote, pagan past.


Oscar Wilde; Arthur Machen; Salomé; Pan; femme fatale; fin-de-siècle; Yellow Nineties; aestheticism; Orientalism; paganism

Full Text:



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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ling-2017-002-ambr


Linguæ & - Rivista di lingue e culture moderne
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (06/04/2012 n. 185)
Online ISSN 1724-8698 - Print ISSN 2281-8952

Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione, Studi Umanistici e Internazionali: Storia, Culture, Lingue, Letterature, Arti, Media
Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo

Editor-in-Chief: Roberta Mullini
Editorial Board: Maurizio Ascari - Stefano Beretta - Antonio Bertacca- Tania Collani - Chiara Elefante - Marina Guglielmi - Maryline Heck - Richard Hillman - Reinhard Johler - Stephen Knight - Cesare Mascitelli - Sonia Massai - Aurélie Moioli - Maria de Fátima Silva - Bart Van Den Bossche 

Editorial Staff: Margaret Amatulli - Alessandra Calanchi - Riccardo Donati - Ivo Klaver  - Massimiliano Morini - Antonella Negri - Luca Renzi

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