JSTOR Presents: Satanism and Magic in the Age of the Moulin Rouge: An Illustrated Lecture by Tara Isabella Burton
Date: Monday, May 23rd
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, 11215 Brooklyn
From mysterious Black Masses held in underground crypts to occult bookstores frequented by the literary élite to mad monks and their possibly-insane lovers dominating literary salons, the time of the Moulin Rouge was also a time of magical exploration: where the possibility of new industrial technology gave rise to a firmly "anti-modern" obsession with the macabre.
And in the decadent world of 19th century Paris, few knew black magic as intimately as the novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans, whose odyssey (ostensibly for the purposes of literary research) into Paris's underbelly of occultists, Satanists and practitioners of black magic -- a group that essentially doubled as a Who's Who of bohemian artists and poets of France's Decadent movement -- became legendary. Encountering such luminaries as the Abbé Boullan, a defrocked priest accused of human sacrifice; the morphine-addicted poet Edouard Dubus; and the sultry Berthe Courrière: Satanist, séance-hosted, and lover to half of Paris's literary elite and a sizable proportion of its priests, Huysmans memorialized his journey into the underworld of Paris's artistic demimonde in his 1891 novel Là-Bas.
A story about the early days of sex, drugs, duels to the death, and early celebrity journalism -- op-eds alleging sorcery in political and literary opponents --- this lecture explores the seedy world of black magic among Paris's fin de siècle literati -- blending scandalous historical anecdote with more general reflections on what made occultism so attractive to 19th century Parisians, and the way in which a burgeoning celebrity culture intensified these magical rivalries.
Tara Isabella Burtons work on religion, culture and place -- from 19th century Parisian occultism to Christian street preachers of Las Vegas to the last remaining Jews in Uzbekistan -- has appeared at JSTOR Daily, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and more. She is completing her DPhil in the theology of fin de siècle French decadence as a Clarendon Scholar at Trinity College, Oxford."
Image: Bat-woman, Albert-Joseph Pénot,1890
Morbid Anatomy Museum (View)
424 A Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215