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Parnassians(pärnăs`ēənz), group of 19th-century French poets, so called from their journal the Parnasse contemporain. Issued from 1866 to 1876, it included poems of Leconte de Lisle, Banville, Sully-Prudhomme, Verlaine, Coppée, and J. M. de Heredia. The Parnassians were influenced by Théophile GautierGautier, Théophile
, 1811–72, French poet, novelist, and critic. He was a leading exponent of "art for art's sake"—the belief that formal, aesthetic beauty is the sole purpose of a work of art.
..... Click the link for more information. and his doctrine of "art for art's sake." In reaction to the looser forms of romantic poetry, they strove for exact and faultless workmanship, selecting exotic and classical subjects which they treated with rigidity of form and emotional detachment.
(Parnasse), the name of a group of French poets. The group’s name took hold after the publication of the anthology Le Parnasse contemporain (Modern Parnassus) in 1866. The leader of the Parnassians was C. Leconte de Lisle.
Rejecting romantic rebellion, criticism of reality, and the sentimental lyricism of the past, the Parnassians preached withdrawal from modern life into the world of “dispassionate” poetry, and they called for new forms and a new poetic language. As G. V. Plekhanov observed, this was a “bourgeois rejection of bourgeois banality” (Plekhanov, Iskusstvo i literatura, 1948, p. 308). The idea of “art for art’s sake,” which had already been expressed by T. Gautier, became the Parnassians’ program. Their first collection (18 issues, March-July 1866) contained the work of 37 poets, many of whom were novices (for example, P. Verlaine and S. Mallarmé). The collection met with success, but it also caused disputes, evoked criticism from E. Zola and the brothers E. de Goncourt and J. de Goncourt, and inspired pamphlets and parodies.
The cult of form led the Parnassians to political and moral indifferentism. Disagreements among the members of the group were exacerbated by the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and the Paris Commune of 1871. For example, Verlaine, L.-X. de Ricard, and A. Glatigny joined the Commune, but F. Coppée and C. Mendès reconciled themselves to the reaction. The Parnassians’ second collection (1871) included works by 55 poets of various schools. (The young A. France was a Parnassian.) The third and last collection, which came out in 1876, resembles anthologies of modern Frech poetry. Despite the ideological limitations of Parnassian aesthetics, the group’s most talented representatives greatly enriched French poetry of the late 19th century.
REFERENCESIstoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1956. Pages 582–98.
France, A. Sobranie sochinenii, vol. 8. Moscow, 1960.
Martino, P. Parnasse et symbolisme, 7th ed. Paris, 1947.
Ricard, L.-X. de. “Petits mémoires d’un Parnassien.” In A. Racot, Les Parnassiens. Paris, 1967.
M. A. GOL’DMAN