Ferguson C (2002) Decadence as Scientific Fulfillment. PMLA : Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, 117 (3), pp. 465-478. http://www.jstor.org/stable/823145
First paragraph: Decadence has long been viewed as an impoverished radicalism, a flawed and potentially embarrassing flirtation with "deviant" themes and styles that ultimately deflated its own subversive ethos through an unintentional affirmation of the high Victorian values --morality, optimism, and scientific positivism -- that it attempted to overthrow. Critics tend to talk about literary decadence in the same way one might about a youthful dalliance with a radical social movement: a well-intentioned but rather futile and self-conscious attempt to resist the dominant culture that would later give way to a more mature, complex, and productive political subjectivity.
PMLA : Publications of the Modern Language Association of America: Volume 117, Issue 3