A Child of the Age

A Child of the Age - Francis Adams, Aubrey Beardsley [These notes were made in 1982:]. I read this in the 1977 Garland reprint of the original 1894 edition. Despite the Beardsley title-page and the lilac-scented dedication, there is little of what we think of as "decadent" in this novel. It is a rather unpleasant first-person portrait of a selfish man who discovers - too late, of course - that he is in love with the woman he has been living with and not with an ideal woman hovering on the edges of his life. There are some rather interesting schoolboy scenes - in the course of which, however, it dawns on the trusting reader that the narrator/protagonist whom she was quite willing to like is actually being portrayed in some rather nasty colours. The language is a little difficult - occasionally convoluted, occasionally elliptical - but never passionately adjectival as in the decadent prose poems. Our "hero" is "Leicester", the mistress "Rosebud" and the ideal woman "Rayne." Fond as I usually am of the excesses of the '90s, I must say this one left a sensation of mild disgust.