In 1888 Ernest Dowson decided to join two Oxford friends in annotating a copy of Olive Schreiner's famous novel, The Story of an African Farm (1882). Six years after its publication, Schreiner's book had come to be recognized as one of those that cast, as one reviewer put it, 'an electric light' upon women's psychology, a topic that was increasingly absorbing the attention of late-Victorian novelists, journalists, critics, and general reading public. Victor Plarr and Frank Walton, the two young men who thought up the satiric annotation scheme, wanted to adopt the heavily pedantic manner of German commentators on the classics. Dowson, choosing instead the persona of 'Anatole de Montmartre,' threw himself into the work with enthusiasm. In the Dowson-Schreiner connection, modem literary historians are likely to see another of those striking contrasts - like the histrionic oppositions of luxury and squalor languor and activism, asceticism and sensuality, art and life - often found

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characteristic of the Victorian fin de siecle. In particular, the conjunction of feminist author and Rhymers/ Club poet brings to mind another pair of apparent opposites: the 'decadent dandy' and the 'New Woman./ These two creatures, by now fully enrolled in the fin de siecle bestiary as the sphinx, the androgyne, or the ballet girl, have been portrayed by modem scholars, not simply as antithetical figures in a deeply self-divided decade, but as antagonistic principles intent on each other's destruction.1