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This emphasis on ugliness may be related to the kind of antifeminist attitude that Pierrot claims was exceedingly prevalent in the Decadent era, thanks to the influence of Baudelaire and Schopenhauer (124).
Therefore, Machado is predisposed to approach the portraits looking for traces of moral character and mental bearing in the face and pose of the subject, specifically choosing subjects in which he can reveal the underlying Decadent sensibility that thematically unites the collection and that reaches far beyond the theme of imperial decadence.
Decadence, Decadentism, and Decadent Romanticism in Italy: Towards a Theory of Decadence.
Neurosis and Narrative: The Decadent Short Fiction of Proust, Lorrain, and Rachilde.
Decadent Genealogies: The Rhetoric of Sickness from Baudelaire to D'Annunzio.
7) For more on European Decadentism, see Jean Pierrot's The Decadent Imagination (1981) and Barbara Spackman's Decadent Genealogies (1989).