One of the newer monographs - published last year - discusses the relations between decadence and modernism and 'radically heterogeneous moments of literary dynamism': Decadence in the Age of Modernism is edited by Kate Hext and Alex Murray, and Ricketts is already quoted in the introduction on page 3.
The book includes an excellent and inspiring article by Ellis Hanson on 'The Queer Drift of Firbank', an essay that immediately takes you to Firbank's work to reread chapters. That was my intention anyway, after I recently visited his grave in a cemetery in Rome, and I wasn't disappointed.
Ricketts is dealt with in chapter two of Decadence in the Age of Modernism, an analysis of the various performances of Wilde's Salome, as the introduction points out:
|Aubrey Beardsley, Salome and the head of Iokanaan (detail)|
This chapter is titled: 'The Ugly Things of Salome' (pp. 47-70), and Ellen Crowell is referring to the severed head of Iokanaan to be shown at the end of the play:
Even when a production garnered general praise for all other production aspects - acting, lighting, sets, costumes, choreography, musical accompaniment - the prop heads designed for productions of Salome in the early modernist period inspired merciless mockery.
|Charles Ricketts, design for Oscar Wilde's Salome (1896)|
[location: Courtauld Institute, London]
As an early aesthetic experiment in deliberate tedium, dullness, and irritation, Salome works by not working, and by making us think about how it is not working. With its final tableau compounded of equal parts "enervation and shock," Wilde's decadent experiment in meta-response may have been lost on his early modernist audiences. But in the work of later twentieth-century artists, including Bertolt Brecht, Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, Andy Warhol, and John Cage, we again find artists pursuing productive aesthetic failure as catalyst for the creation of new generic forms.