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Related to symbolists: symbolism


in literature, a school originating in France toward the end of the 19th cent. in reaction to the naturalism and realism of the period. Designed to convey impressions by suggestion rather than by direct statement, symbolism found its first expression in poetry but was later extended to the other arts. The early symbolists experimented with form, revolting against the rigidity of the ParnassiansParnassians
, 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.
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 with a free versefree verse,
term loosely used for rhymed or unrhymed verse made free of conventional and traditional limitations and restrictions in regard to metrical structure. Cadence, especially that of common speech, is often substituted for regular metrical pattern.
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 that has outlived the movement itself. The precursors of the school, all influenced by Baudelaire, included Verlaine, Mallarmé, and Rimbaud. They were accused of writing with a decadent morbidity, partly as the result of their utilization of imagination as a reality. The movement was continued in poetry by Laforgue, Moréas, and Régnier; in drama by Maeterlinck; in criticism by Remy de Gourmont; and in music by Debussy. Among the later symbolists were Claudel, Valéry, Jammes, and the critic Camille Mauclair. The influence of the French symbolists not only gave rise to similar schools in England, Germany, and other countries, but also may be traced in the development of the imagistsimagists,
group of English and American poets writing from 1909 to about 1917, who were united by their revolt against the exuberant imagery and diffuse sentimentality of 19th-century poetry.
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 and decadentsdecadents,
in literature, name loosely applied to those 19th-century, fin-de-siècle European authors who sought inspiration, both in their lives and in their writings, in aestheticism and in all the more or less morbid and macabre expressions of human emotion.
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; it is likewise evident in the work of Arthur Symons, T. S. Eliot, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Eugene O'Neill, Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas, William Faulkner, and E. E. Cummings.


See C. M. Bowra, The Heritage of Symbolism (1943); W. K. Cornell, The Symbolist Movement (1970); A. Balakian, The Symbolist Movement (1967, repr. 1977) and ed., The Symbolist Movement in the Literature of European Languages (1982).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Janis Rozentals was the leading Symbolist from Latvia.
Redon is often described as a Symbolist. Symbolist artists believed overall in a rejection of naturalism and that art should transmit an idea or emotion.
Similarly, Albrecht does not acknowledge a key body of recent critical scholarship in this field, such as Joseph Acquisto's French Symbolist Poetry and the Idea of Music (2006), or Margaret Miner's Resonant Gaps between Baudelaire and Wagner (1995), to name but two.
the Symbolists in literature and their most comprehensive contemporary
Though the major poets whom we call "symbolists" rejected the epithet, critics found "symbolism" a valid name for the school because, once the poets cleared away formal concerns extrinsic to the heart of poetry, the symbol remained.
By these minimal means she could suggest the immolation of Wagner's Briinnhilde; for this we have the witness of the Symbolist poet Georges Rodenbach, who was an aficionado of her art.
Bartlett does introduce critical concepts from Russian folk tradition, for example, the khorovod (ancient "mystical choral dance") and the obshchina (the commune), and explain how these cultural rites and features, especially as interpreted by Russian symbolists, equate to planks in Wagner's aesthetic platform.
Poets of Hope and Despair presents Ben Hellman's personal reading of the Russian symbolist poets' ideologies during World War I, such poets as Andrei Bely, Alexander Blok, Zinaida Hippius, Dmitri Merezhkovsky, Fyodor Sologub, and others.
Nevertheless, although it is not surprising that most attention is paid to those poets whose work fits best the two main (and conflicting) definitions of Symbolism given by the major participants in the movement, and although scholars of the period need to appreciate that the Symbolists' vision of what they were doing affected what they were doing, it is also important to keep a certain critical distance and not to be over-reliant on the movement's self-assessment.
(54) Eliot's review of Peter Quennell's Baudelaire and the Symbolists in the Criterion 9 (1930): 357.
These volumes are a joy to handle, so beautifully produced are they, quarter bound in blue and grey cloth, and are part of Woodstock's designated `Decadents, Symbolists, Anti-Decadents' list.