French Symbolist Poetry Criticism: Overviews - Essay

Albert Thibaudet (essay date 1938)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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.]


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...

(The entire section is 2661 words.)

Laurent LeSage (essay date 1978)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 3761 words.)

Enid Rhodes Peschel (essay date 1981)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 4139 words.)