Vol. 6: Translating Decadence

Decadent Aesthetics in Cyril Scott’s Translations and Song Settings

Jane Desmarais
Goldsmiths, University of London

Published 2024-04-18


  • Charles Baudelaire,
  • Cyril Scott,
  • Decadence,
  • Song Setting,
  • Stefan George


Of the early twentieth-century composers inspired by decadent and symbolist verse, Cyril Scott (1879-1970) produced the greatest number of literary translations and musical adaptations. This essay considers Scott’s literary translations of Charles Baudelaire and Stefan George alongside his song settings of Ernest Dowson’s poems within the context of the cosmopolitan aesthetic circles in which he moved. The essay argues that a productive reading of his work takes into account a “nineties” decadent aesthetics that emphasizes sensuality, mood, and interstitiality and can be read across both his literary translations and song settings.


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