French Symbolist Poetry
French Symbolist Poetry
The following entry presents contemporary critical discussion of French Symbolist Poetry.
French Symbolism was a complex and influential literary movement that flourished during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Although the term Symbolism was first applied by Jean Moréas in 1885, the stylistic, thematic, and philosophic tenets of this poetic movement were established earlier in the works of Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, and Stéphane Mallarmé. In overview, the works of the Symbolists were characterized by a concern with moods and transient sensations rather than lucid statements and descriptions, a desire to apprehend the existence of a transcendental realm of being where one could commune with the innate but inscrutable essences of life, a hermetic subjectivity, and an interest in the morbid or esoteric. Like the Decadents, their contemporaries in late nineteenth-century French literature, the Symbolist poets rejected conventional religious, social, and moral values, embracing instead a world-negating escapism, the lure of exoticism, and an aggressive individualism. They also reacted strongly against the traditional techniques, rigid forms, and descriptive propensities of their poetic forebears, the Parnassians, and repudiated the then dominant fictional mode of the Naturalists, writers who sought to represent human life in terms of physical and biological forces and rendered their works in uncomplicated, journalistic prose. Instead, the Symbolist poets were primarily concerned with the expression of inward experience, and their approach often resulted in works that were intentionally obscure and highly personal.
Although it can be said to have originated decades earlier, the Symbolist movement emerged formally in the mid-1880s as a reaction to adverse criticism that had been directed at poets associated with the Decadent movement. Responding to critical attacks aimed at the “decadent” style of writers who had drawn their inspiration primarily from the works of Baudelaire, Moréas published an essay in the journal Le XIXe siècle in 1885 defending the search for a new language, one that progressed beyond the previous conventions of French versification to convey a poetic reality independent of rhetoric and surface descriptions. In this essay, Moréas coined the term “symbolism” in its modern sense, believing it a more accurate and less derogatory word than “Decadence” to describe his work and that of his contemporaries. In a continuation of the debate over the validity of the movement, Moréas published “Manifeste littéraire de l'école Symboliste” a year later in Le Figaro, in which he proclaimed Symbolism the dominant school of French poetry. The same year, Moréas joined with Gustave Kahn and Paul Adam to found Le Symboliste, a short-lived periodical devoted to the cause of Symbolist literature. Perhaps the best-known journal of the movement was the Mercure de France, which was co-founded by Remy de Gourmont, one of the most prominent critics to support the Symbolists. Defining the principles of Symbolist art, Gourmont asserted that Symbolism meant “individualism in literature, liberty in art,” and the “abandonment of existing forms.”
Long before the 1886 publication of the Symbolist manifesto by Moréas and the subsequent critical codifications of the movement, however, the aesthetics and ideology of Symbolism were embodied in the poetic works of its principal proponents: Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé. Baudelaire's verse collection Les Fleurs du mal (1857; The Flowers of Evil) represents a catalogue of qualities that would appear in the writings of the later Symbolist writers: individualism to the point of misanthropy, perverse eroticism, fascination with the exotic, extreme cynicism, occult reverence for the power of language, and nostalgia for a spiritual homeland that exists beyond the visible world. In particular, Baudelaire's poem “Correspondences,” first published in Les Fleurs du mal, articulates two important principles of Symbolist poetry: first, that esoteric parallels exist between material and spiritual worlds; second, that human sense perceptions, such as those of sight or hearing, may correspond to one another in a phenomenon known as synesthesia. The contribution of Verlaine to the development of Symbolism derives from the intense lyricism of his verse, which inspired an emphasis in late nineteenth-century poetry on the musical possibilities of language, and also prompted a poetic concern with mood rather than meaning. In the poetry of Rimbaud, the visionary nature of Symbolism is conspicuously revealed as the poet assumes the role of seer and advocates the derangement of his senses and abandonment of reason for the illuminations of mysticism. In such works as Le Bateau ivre (1871; The Drunken Boat) and Les Illuminations (1886; Illuminations), which were composed before the author had reached the age of twenty, Rimbaud offers a hallucinatory mode of perception and an intensely original style of poetic expression. Similarly noted for his stylistic innovations in service of a transcendent vision was Mallarmé, who became the central figure in the Symbolist movement both for his role as a mentor to younger poets and for his poetry, which many critics regard as the epitome of Symbolist art. With such poems as “Hérodiade” (1869) and “L'Après-midi d'un faun” (1876; “The Afternoon of a Faun”) Mallarmé not only provided supreme examples of Symbolist themes and techniques but also engaged in literary experimentation to a degree that anticipated the new direction of modernist literature.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the Symbolists had virtually disappeared from the French literary scene. The deaths of the movement's leading figures, including Mallarmé in 1898, prompted a steep decline. Although the moment of the Symbolist poets was a short-lived one in French literary history, its effect on the subsequent course of world literature has been lasting and profound; Symbolist poetic influence predominated for decades throughout the world, particularly in Russia, Germany, Eastern Europe, and Japan. Furthermore, a number of the leading French writers of the modernist period, most prominently Paul Valéry and Paul Claudel, continued to follow many of the principles of Symbolism in their work. Succeeded by various avant-garde movements of the twentieth century, Symbolism is often recognized as the source of the modern artistic temper as characterized by formal experimentation and alienation from society. Finalizing scholarly assessments of Symbolist poetics, however, has remained as elusive as some of most deeply enigmatic works composed by Baudelaire or Mallarmé.
Les Fleurs du mal [The Flowers of Evil] (poetry) 1857
Petits poèms en prose: Le Spleen de Paris [Little Prose Poems: Paris Spleen] (poetry) 1869
“Hérodiade” (unfinished poem) 1864
“L'Après-midi d'un faun” [“The Afternoon of a Faun”] (poetry) 1876
Vers et prose (poetry and prose) 1893
Divigations [Ramblings] (essays) 1897
“Manifeste littéraire de l'école Symboliste” (manifesto) 1886
Le Bateau ivre [The Drunken Boat] (poetry) 1871
Une Saison en enfer [A Season in Hell] (poetry) 1873
Les Illuminations [Illuminations] (poetry) 1886
Romances san paroles [Songs Without Words] (poetry) 1874
Jadis et naguère [Long Ago and a Short While Ago] (poetry) 1884
Les Poètes maudits [Accursed Poets] (criticism) 1884
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SOURCE: Thibaudet, Albert. “Symbolism.” In French Literature from 1795 to Our Era, translated by Charles Lam Markmann, pp. 428-33. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1967.
[In the following essay, translated in 1967, Thibaudet summarizes the main poetic concepts and ideals associated with French Symbolism and surveys the movement's principal and allied proponents.]
THE NEW SCHOOL AND THE OLD SCHOOLS
Victor Hugo was born in the year of Le Génie du christianisme, and this man was so closely bound to the continuity of the century that it seems that the poetic revolution waited for the year of his death to announce itself. “I am going to clear the horizon,” he said.
He cleared it principally to the benefit of those poets born after 1860 who were later called the symbolist generation and whom one must be careful not to view too expressly as a reaction against Parnassus and against naturalism. Through their masters, Verlaine and Mallarmé, on the one side, and through Hérédia on the other, their connection with the Parnassians is evident. And one of the reasons why that date of 1885 is important is that in the preceding year one of the naturalists of Les Soirées de Médan, Huysmans, published A Rebours, a book that put the public at the disposal of the new poetic school and that, in a certain measure, played the preparatory part of a...
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SOURCE: LeSage, Laurent. Introduction to The Rhumb Line of Symbolism: French Poets from Sainte-Beuve to Valéry, pp. 1-10. University Park, Penn.: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1978.
[In the following introduction to his book-length study of Symbolism, LeSage encapsulates the Symbolist movement in France as it developed in the late nineteenth century, noting the poetic contributions of its major figures: Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Verlaine, and Rimbaud.]
The Symbolist movement can be viewed today as a development and, in some respects, a fulfillment of the ideals set up by the earlier Romantic generations everywhere in Europe.1 It seems indeed a part of Romanticism, which, in the broad sense of the word, stands for the intuitive as opposed to the rational, the subjective as opposed to the objective, for individuality and liberty.2 Thus philosophically and esthetically considered, Symbolism is a modern expression of one of the fundamental tempers of man, and, as such, can be properly placed in the line of all mystic, oracular, illuminist, or idealist traditions.3 This is the broad view. It takes in some of the greatest writers of the nineteenth century in France and includes as well the chief creative geniuses of our own times. But if we take the narrow view, we see merely a swarm of poets loosely called Symbolists grouping and regrouping themselves during the last...
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SOURCE: Peschel, Enid Rhodes. Introduction to Four French Symbolist Poets: Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarmé, translated by Enid Rhodes Peschel, pp. 1-65. Athens, Oh.: Ohio University Press, 1981.
[In the following excerpt, Peschel explores attempts by Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, and Mallarmé to create a new, Symbolist language of poetic utterance.]
Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term “Art,” I should call it “the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.”
Poe, “The Veil of the Soul”
In its strictest historical sense, symbolism describes the French and Belgian writers of the late nineteenth century who, rejecting realism, tried to suggest ideas, emotions and attitudes by using symbolic words, figures and objects. Around 1885 to 1895, they produced manifestoes, sponsored literary reviews, met in various literary groups and discussed points of artistic doctrine. But as several notable critics have shown, symbolism has a much broader aesthetic and historical base and may include works dating from 1857 (when Baudelaire's revolutionary book of poems, The Flowers of Evil, appeared) to the 1930s.1 Among the symbolist writers, one could then number the four greatest French poets of the second half of the nineteenth...
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Criticism: Symbolist Aesthetics
SOURCE: Freedman, Ralph. “Symbol as Terminus: Some Notes on Symbolist Narrative.” Comparative Literature Studies 4, nos. 1-2 (1967): 135-43.
[In the following essay, Freedman studies the methods of narrative structure and deformation employed in the Symbolist prose poem.]
An analysis of the achievement of the French Symbolist Movement exacts both a strong measure of awe and a sharp critique. The grounds for awe are evident: for many reasons, not the least among them the towering figure of Mallarmé, symbolism was able to render the clearest answer to the modern confrontation of self and world, to give the most precise shape to the self-conscious concern with the nature of the object in an “atmosphere of the mind.” Indeed, the insistent probings of symbolist poets in France, Belgium, and eventually throughout Europe created a climate which forced realism in literature into a radical crisis. Once poets had discovered the means whereby to accept the dominance of the psyche over the object, of aesthetic freedom over scientific causation, the issues of romanticism had been successfully joined in an era of fin de siècle technology. But such an appraisal of symbolism is necessarily accompanied by an awareness of its implicit failure, for in shaping its program, it created its own impasse.
Although historically the language of French symbolism was...
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SOURCE: La Charité, Virginia A. “Mallarmé and the Elasticity of the Text.” Sou'wester 6, no. 1 (winter 1978): 1-12.
[In the following essay, La Charité elucidates the ambiguous, intertextual, and elastic structure of Mallarmé's poetry.]
In the poetic universe of Stéphane Mallarmé, the poet has the power to create with words, to go beyond the object by making an absolute out of language. On nearly every page of his prose commentaries on the essence of poetry, Mallarmé expresses commitment to “le Texte … parlant de lui-même” (“the Text speaking by itself,” OC, p. 663).1 And, indeed, in his poetry, the object becomes a word which dissolves its material reference points and reveals a permanence beyond words, an authentic silence which communicates “perfect certainty” (OC, p. 446). This transformation of the real permits us to describe him as a “pure” poet.
Looking at the great diversity of Mallarmé's writing—his verse poems, letters, prose poems, theoretical musings, articles, notes—we find two fundamental patterns in operation in his communication of the pure realm of poetry. On a thematic level, Mallarmé is concerned first and foremost with the representation of poetry regardless of its actual mode of expression (formal poem, music, theater, ballet, art, prose), while, on a linguistic level, he continually has recourse to a...
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SOURCE: Houston, John Porter. “The Poetry of Consciousness.” In French Symbolism and the Modernist Movement: A Study of Poetic Structures, pp. 1-95. Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1980.
[In the following excerpt, Houston traces the development of nineteenth-century French poetic aesthetics through its transition from Romanticism to Symbolism.]
1. SOME IDEAS ON ART, LIFE, AND NATURE
From the early nineteenth century on, there are aspects of French aesthetic thought which stand out from contemporary English and German theory and anticipate the characteristic ideas on art of a later period. In fact, the first deeply influential and significant volume of French romantic poetry, Victor Hugo's Les Orientales (1829), has, both in its preface and contents, features whose consequences extend beyond what we normally think of as the chronological limits of French romanticism. The poems, which are set in parts of the Mediterranean world remote from Paris, are presented as the reveries of a city-dweller. Their style is, in comparison to previous French poetry, rich in evocations of light, color, line, and detail. In the preface Hugo compares the individual poems to paintings and to the varied architectural monuments of an old Spanish city; the book as a whole he characterizes as a useless one of pure poetry. A work of art which is constructed with skill out of...
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SOURCE: Scott, Clive. “The Poetry of Symbolism and Decadence.” In Symbolism, Decadence, and the Fin de Siècle: French And European Perspectives, edited by Patrick McGuinness, pp. 57-71. Exeter, England: University of Exeter Press, 2000.
[In the following essay, Scott contrasts approaches to theme, versification, and aesthetics in Symbolist and Decadent poetry.]
The purpose of this [essay] is to trace, with a broad brush, the pursuit by Symbolist and Decadent poets—or Symbolist and Decadent aspects of the same poet—of a verse-art adequate to their metaphysical and existential perceptions, and to ask what these developments in verse-art can tell us about the difference between the two terms. The sense of a change in oral and aural needs was widely shared:
En quelques années, l'oreille française s'est transformée. Elle qui n'était accessible qu'aux rythmes solides, réguliers, frappés à intervalles égaux à l'infinie variété des repos périodiques,—elle se plaît maintenant à l'infinie variété des mesures possibles, à la délicatesse des rythmiques relâchées, à la diversité d'expression qu'entraîne le perpétuel déroulement des idées.1
[In the space of a few years, the French ear has been transformed. Where once it was only responsive to firm, regular rhythms,...
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SOURCE: Franke, William. “The Linguistic Turning of the Symbol: Baudelaire and His French Symbolist Heirs.” In Baudelaire and the Poetics of Modernity, edited by Patricia A. Ward, pp. 15-28. Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 2001.
[In the following essay, Franke considers the Symbolist poetics of Baudelaire, exploring the French poet's theories of correspondence between language, symbol, reality, and meaning.]
The process of symbolization begins when one thing is used to stand for something else. A stone thrown into a pit for the purpose of counting whatever sort of objects may be considered a primitive symbol. A link is thereby forged between items that have nothing to do with each other in the nature of things, simply by virtue of the one's being made to take the place of the other. Some such model as this generally informs the notion of the symbol current in linguistics and semiotics and in a broad spectrum of empirical disciplines where phenomena of signification are studied scientifically. The aspect of the symbol that is stressed in these fields is its arbitrariness or conventionality and the fact that it is not the object it symbolizes, but just some substitute for it in the object's absence.1
For poets, and generally in aesthetic theory, the symbolic has quite a different meaning. The symbol distinguishes itself from other types of signs (or as...
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Criticism: The Symbolist Lyric
SOURCE: Kugel, James L. “The Prince and His Star.” In The Techniques of Strangeness in Symbolist Poetry, pp. 32-42. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1971.
[In the following excerpt, Kugel explicates Gérard de Nerval's “El Desdichado” (1853), viewing it as an archetypal Symbolist poem.]
The stylistic problem faced by the Symbolist poet was how to make a poem strange. Of course, it is unlikely that he posed the question to himself in such a conscious way: he simply wrote poems, and each poem was itself an answer. A good answer, a satisfying answer, was followed by another attempt along the same lines; a bad answer was rejected and its direction abandoned.
Poetic strangeness, as noted earlier, first took the form of strange subjects—remote times and civilizations, taboo tastes and delights, the “plaisirs artificiels” praised by the master Baudelaire. There were also strange verse forms, which destroyed the sacred alexandrine line (again following Baudelaire) and introduced new, short, sing-song lyrics, “refrains niais, rythmes naïfs.”1 And then there was something else, more diffuse and all-encompassing, a revolutionary technique—perhaps a whole new way of writing. It was the use of “symbols,” Moréas and the others said; but …, this did not go very far in describing it.
Surely this style of writing went further than...
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SOURCE: Peyre, Henri. “Verlaine: Symbolism and Popular Poetry.” Sou'wester 6, no. 1 (winter 1978): 13-26.
[In the following essay, Peyre stresses the popular origins and appeal of Verlaine's poetry.]
The extraordinary prestige which, after almost a hundred years, French Symbolism continues enjoying in half a dozen countries is a puzzling phenomenon for the observer of the literary scene. For, despite a few superficial appearances and occasional (often misleading) allusions in Symbolist manifestoes to Hegel, Schopenhauer, Shelley, Poe or Emerson, no movement was so exclusively French as that which underlay the poetry of Verlaine, Rimbaud, Laforgue, Mallarmé himself, and later Claudel and Valéry. The doctrine of French Classicism had acquired its own self-awareness through Italian and Spanish commentaries on Aristotle and Horace. The Romantics of France had generously invoked the precedents of Shakespeare, Schiller, Byron and Walter Scott. But Tristan Corbière, the adolescent Rimbaud, the Verlaine who had, at thirty-one, been released from prison, and the Mallarmé of “The Faun” owed little, if anything, to foreign examples. None of them ever guessed, before 1885 or thereabout, that he would some day be linked with a group called “Symbolist.” Neither Rimbaud nor Verlaine, not Laforgue and not even Mallarmé until late in his career, claimed the title, or the label, of “Symbolist.”...
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SOURCE: Peschel, Enid Rhodes. “‘To Plunge Into the Bottom of the Abyss’: Rimbaud's Search for the Unknown in The Drunken Boat and Memory.” Sou'wester 6, no. 1 (winter 1978): 73-85.
[In the following essay, Peschel probes the conflicting impulses, the sense of despair, and the sense of thwarted desire to discern the “unknown” that is central to Rimbaud's verse.]
Although Rimbaud's poetry was written for the most part between 1869 and 1874, it was published in the 1880s, during the heyday of French symbolism. At that time, Rimbaud's remarkable and revolutionary poetic achievements were not immediately appreciated or understood. “Aside from Rimbaud's sonnet Vowels, The Drunken Boat and several passages of A Season in Hell, Rimbaud's work and its revolutionary meaning were overlooked by the symbolists of the literary societies of 1885-1895,” notes Henri Peyre in his excellent study Qu'est-ce que le symbolisme?1 Only with later writers, in fact—with Gide, Valéry, Claudel and René Char, for example—did Rimbaud's profound influence become apparent.
Nevertheless, the writers who called themselves “symbolistes” could admire in Rimbaud the masked, elusive quality of his utterances; the primordial importance he ascribed to the symbol rather than to direct statement; his use of synaesthesia; and his haunting, lyrical...
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Criticism: History And Influence
SOURCE: Cornell, Kenneth. “Triumph and Schism, 1891.” In The Symbolist Movement, pp. 101-18. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1951.
[In the following essay, Cornell details the literary events of 1891, a pinnacle year for French Symbolist verse.]
The first months of 1891, a year extremely rich in the annals of symbolism, are largely concerned with the circumstances surrounding the publication of Le Pèlerin passionné. Moréas had, it would seem, carefully prepared for much publicity at the appearance of his volume. In late December, 1890, just as the book was coming off Vanier's presses, Anatole France wrote a long article on Moréas for Le Temps.1 Meanwhile Moréas had begun a campaign to celebrate the book and had enlisted the aid of Maurice Barrès and Henri de Régnier in arranging a banquet. In addition, since Deschamps had asked him to edit a special number of La Plume, he appears to have retarded his copy until January 1, 1891,2 the exact moment when the copies of Le Pèlerin passionné were put on sale. The issue appeared with the name of Moréas in huge letters on the cover and contained, besides a drawing of Moréas by Gauguin, reprints of articles on Le Pèlerin passionné, by France and Barrès3 and selections from Moréas' published work. An essay by Achille Delaroche, called the “Annales du symbolisme,” did...
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SOURCE: Wellek, René. “The Term and Concept of Symbolism in Literary History.” In Discriminations: Further Concepts of Criticism, pp. 92-121. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1970.
[In the following essay, Wellek seeks to define Symbolism as a movement and describes its influence on European literature.]
The term and concept of symbolism (and symbol) is so vast a topic that it cannot even be sketched within the limits of this paper. The word goes back to ancient Greece and, there, had a complex history which has not, I suspect, been traced adequately in the only history of the term, Max Schlesinger's Geschichte des Symbols, published in 1912.1
What I want to discuss is something much more specific: not even symbol and symbolism in literature but the term and concept of symbolism as a period in literary history. It can, I suggest, be conveniently used as a general term for the literature in all Western countries following the decline of nineteenth-century realism and naturalism and preceding the rise of the new avant-garde movements: futurism, expressionism, surrealism, existentialism, or whatever else. How has it come about? Can such a use be justified?
We must distinguish among different problems: the history of the word need not be identical with the history of the concept as we might today formulate it. We must ask, on the one hand, what...
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SOURCE: Fowlie, Wallace. “The Background of Symbolism: From Romanticism to Art for Art's Sake,” and “The Legacy of Symbolism.” In Poem & Symbol: A Brief History of French Symbolism, pp. 1-14, 109-19. University Park, Penn.: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990.
[In the following excerpt, Fowlie examines the relationship between Parnassian l'art pour l'art, literary Decadence, and Symbolist poetry, then summarizes the enduring influence of French Symbolist verse.]
THE BACKGROUND OF SYMBOLISM: FROM ROMANTICISM TO ART FOR ART'S SAKE
Romanticism has always been looked upon as a literary revolution. It was the first in the history of French literature that cannot be separated from a comparable revolution in painting. The Salon of 1827, the painting exhibit held the same year the Préface de Cromwell was read and published by Victor Hugo, showed Delacroix's Le Christ au jardin des Oliviers and the work of a twenty-one-year-old artist, Louis Boulanger, a painting called Mazeppa, which was enthusiastically received by the painters. Boulanger became momentarily Hugo's favorite painter.
This union of poetry and art was further consecrated by another cénacle, quite different from Hugo's, which is sometimes considered the birthplace of the movement called l'art pour l'art. It was a studio workshop, an...
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SOURCE: Porter, Laurence M. “The Crisis of French Symbolism.” In The Crisis of French Symbolism, pp. 1-26. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990.
[In the following excerpt, Porter outlines the progress of nineteenth-century French poetry from Neoclassicism to Romanticism and Symbolism.]
The history of the nineteenth-century French lyric needs to be redefined. The very discredit into which diachronic approaches have fallen during the eras of Structuralism and Poststructuralism allows the assumptions that have informed these approaches to survive unchallenged in the collective preconscious of literary critics. We may consider literary history no longer worthy of consideration; we may divert our attention from it; but it will still survive subliminally, intact, and insulated from the salutary influence of competing ideas. Since we each have a personal history and pass through an organic life cycle, we shall always be compelled on some level to project the historical and organic metaphors onto other phenomena such as literature.
The prevailing scheme for structuring the history of nineteenth-century French poetry divides the century into three periods: Romanticism, an undifferentiated transitional phase, and Symbolism. Lacking the conceptual “home” of an identified literary movement, some major mid-century poets are neglected, while others are reft from their historical...
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SOURCE: Shryock, Richard. “Anarchism at the Dawn of the Symbolist Movement.” French Forum 25, no. 3 (September 2000): 291-307.
[In the following essay, Shryock investigates links between the Symbolist poets and late nineteenth-century revolutionary politics.]
“Le Symbolisme … fut un mouvement libertaire en littérature” wrote Stuart Merrill in 1901.1 For Merrill, whose own ties to French anarchism date from at least 1887, “libertaire” was a synonym of “anarchist.” The Symbolists' involvement with anarchism has been recognized and studied by several critics.2 However, one problem faced by writers of the Symbolist movement was having the socio-political dimension of their works taken seriously. In part, this is because their writing is at some distance from usual forms of littérature engagée which may come to mind. Critics doubted then, and still today, that any socio-political dimension motivated Symbolist literature, arguing that many Symbolists openly embraced anarchist ideas only in the 1890s when anarchism had become fashionable. This impression is further magnified by the fact that almost without exception all of the critical attention has been directed at the 1890s, thereby ignoring the socio-political orientation of the movement at its inception. However, Merrill's perspective, which was shared by numerous fellow Symbolists, was that Symbolism did...
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Aguirre, Ángel Manuel. “Juan Ramón Jiménez and the French Symbolist Poets: Influences and Similarities.” Revista Hispánica Moderna: Columbia University Hispanic Studies 36, no. 4 (1970-71): 212-23.
Considers the stylistic and theoretical influence of works by Rimbaud, Mallarmé, and Verlaine on the writings of Andalusian poet Juan Ramón Jiménez.
Aguirre, J. M. “Francis Vielé-Griffin, ‘La Partenza’: A Symbolist Poem.” Studi Francesi 24, no. 1 (January-April 1980): 102-13.
Provisionally identifies the main features of Symbolist verse, then applies these concepts to an interpretation of Vielé-Griffin's 1899 poem “La Partenza.”
Balakian, Anna, ed. The Symbolist Movement in the Literature of European Languages, Budapest, Hungary: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1982, 732 p.
A collection of essays on Symbolism largely devoted to the influence of the movement on twentieth-century literature, art, and music.
———. The Fiction of the Poet: From Mallarmé to the Post-Symbolist Mode, Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1992, 201 p.
Studies developments in Symbolist poetic and narrative theory after Mallarmé, focusing on writers such as Valéry, Rilke, Yeats, and Stevens as post-Symbolists.
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