Archive | July 2012: The Literary Dandy

From the Archives: The Last of the Regency Dandies (1862)

An excerpt from “The Last of the Dandies” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, June 1862 Article unsigned “Who is Captain Gronow?” He is the last of the “Dandies” of the Regency of George IV.; the sole survivor—unless we except the present octogenarian Prime Minister — of the favored mortals who, forty years ago, danced at Almack’s […]

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CPR Remembers: Count Robert de Montesquiou

Of all the modern poets of France who claimed noble birth—and many did so, by inserting de before their last name as a literary and social affectation—only two indisputably had that right: Villiers de L’isle-Adam and Robert de Montesquiou. And while Villiers was born to a family of paupers who had titles but no land, […]

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From the Archives: Beau Brummell by John Doran (1857)

A section of “Beau Brummell” from Miscellaneous Works Volume I: Habits and Men by John Doran (1857) I scorn to crowd among the muddy throng Of the rank multitude, whose thicken’d breath (Like to condensed fogs) do choke the beauty Which else would dwell in every kingdom’s cheek. No: I still boldly stepp’d into kings’ […]

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From the Archives: Brummelliana by William Hazlitt (1828)

We look upon Beau Brummell as the greatest of small wits. Indeed, he may in this respect be considered, as Cowley says of Pindar as “a species alone,” and as forming a class by himself. He has arrived at the very minimum of wit, and reduced it, “by happiness or pains,” to an almost invisible […]

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From the Archives: The Life of Beau Brummell (1864)

“Beau Brummell” from Eccentric Personages by W. Russell (1864) It is a solemn truth that every death-bed is the final scene of a great tragedy, though the death be a beggar’s, the bed one of straw. Yet to the human imagination the supreme catastrophe is magnified in its impressive terror when the miserable death strikingly […]

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From the Archives: The Maxims of Pelham (1828)

An Excerpt from Pelham: Or the Adventures of a Gentleman by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1828) 1.) Do not require your dress so much to fit, as to adorn you. Nature is not to be copied, but to be exalted by art. Apelles blamed Protogenes for being too natural. 2.) Never in your dress altogether desert that […]

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The Director of Imperial Pleasures: Gaius Petronius

It is not until the reign of that frustrated artist and unsurpassed egotist, Nero, that we again recognize the true dandy, so insolent in repose, embodied in the fragmentary figure of Gaius Petronius (Arbiter). Nero was particularly sensitive to the opinions of artists. Just as Seneca had exercised a benevolent influence on the young emperor, […]

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The First Literary Dandy: Plato

The first literary dandy of whom we still have record was Plato—who was unquestionably the greatest “exquisite” of his day. This will strike most modern readers as astonishing or inconceivable but it is neither for those who know their Greek. As a young man in love, he wrote epigrams to his courtesan Archaeanassa (which are […]

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Introduction: The Literary Dandy (A Special Issue)

When was man first freed from the drudgery of earning his income? And who was the first to dedicate himself to the art of living well? At what point in history did an entire leisure class of hedonistic egoists first appear? And what is dandyism after all? It is merely an excessive delight in clothes […]

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