In response to the growing influence of Republicanism, science and secularism, turn-of-the-century France witnessed a powerful movement toward mysticism, magic, and Satanism. Serious occultists, declaring themselves heirs of Hermes Trismegistus, published works fueling interest in spiritualism, astral travel, and spellcasting. Capitalizing on church concerns over the spread of devil-worship, Leo Taxil propagated the stunningly intricate hoax of Palladism, declaring that the Freemasons had established in Lodges throughout the world a cult of Lucifer devoted to sexual debauchery and mass murder of the faithful. Disenchanted with religion that preached reason and moderation, fin-de-siecle Catholics turned increasingly toward mystical beliefs extolling the value of personal suffering that would help to hasten the fervently hoped-for apocalypse. Examining the cultural determinants accounting for the flourishing of the supernatural, this volume examines the emergence in France of the mystic, the Magus, and malefactor.
ROBERT ZIEGLER is professor of Liberal Studies at Montana Tech, USA. He has published widely on turn-of-the century French literature and French Decadence, and is the author of four books on the fin de siècle: Beauty Raises the Dead (2001), selected as a Choice outstanding academic book, The Mirror of Divinity: The World and Creation in J.-K. Huysmans (2004), The Nothing Machine: The Fiction of Octave Mirbeau (2007), and Asymptote: An Approach to Decadent Fiction (2009).