The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018
Fin de siècle
Fin de siècle: French for “end of the century,” a phrase referring generally to works produced in the last years of any century and specifically to the transitional 1890s, when French, English, and American writers were beginning to break free from the constraints and polite conventions associated with Victorianism in favor of bold techniques and bolder subjects. When used as a chronological marker for the period 1890—1900, fin de siècle encompasses works written by darkly realistic writers, members of the Aesthetic Movement, and authors of radical or revolutionary works envisioning an apocalyptic end to the old social order. The phrase is most often used, however, with reference to late-nineteenth-century French writers associated with the Decadence, a literary movement characterized by works that conveyed a sense of lassitude and boredom, rejected conventional social mores, and reflected the view that art is independent of morality. The term has also come to signify a period of literary decline.