Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts.
In literature, the style originates with the 1857 publication of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal . The works of Edgar Allan Poe, which Baudelaire admired greatly and translated into French, were a significant influence and the source of many stock tropes and images. The aesthetic was developed by Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine during the 1860s and 1870s. In the 1880s, the aesthetic was articulated by a series of manifestos and attracted a generation of writers. The term "symbolist" was first applied by the critic Jean Moréas, who invented the term to distinguish the Symbolists from the related Decadents of literature and of art.
Distinct from, but related to, the style of literature, symbolism in art is related to the gothic component of Romanticism and Impressionism.
The term symbolism is derived from the word "symbol" which derives from the Latin symbolum, a symbol of faith, and symbolus, a sign of recognition, in turn from classical Greek σύμβολον symbolon, an object cut in half constituting a sign of recognition when the carriers were able to reassemble the two halves. In ancient Greece, the symbolon was a shard of pottery which was inscribed and then broken into two pieces which were given to the ambassadors from two allied city states as a record of the alliance.
Symbolism was largely a reaction against naturalism and realism, anti-idealistic styles which were attempts to represent reality in its gritty particularity, and to elevate the humble and the ordinary over the ideal. Symbolism was a reaction in favour of spirituality, the imagination, and dreams.Some writers, such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, began as naturalists before becoming symbolists; for Huysmans, this change represented his increasing interest in religion and spirituality. Certain of the characteristic subjects of the Decadents represent naturalist interest in sexuality and taboo topics, but in their case this was mixed with Byronic romanticism and the world-weariness characteristic of the fin de siècle period.
The Symbolist poets have a more complex relationship with Parnassianism, a French literary style that immediately preceded it. While being influenced by hermeticism, allowing freer versification, and rejecting Parnassian clarity and objectivity, it retained Parnassianism's love of word play and concern for the musical qualities of verse. The Symbolists continued to admire Théophile Gautier's motto of "art for art's sake", and retained – and modified – Parnassianism's mood of ironic detachment.Many Symbolist poets, including Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine, published early works in Le Parnasse contemporain , the poetry anthologies that gave Parnassianism its name. But Arthur Rimbaud publicly mocked prominent Parnassians and published scatological parodies of some of their main authors, including François Coppée – misattributed to Coppée himself – in L'Album zutique .
One of Symbolism's most colourful promoters in Paris was art and literary critic (and occultist) Joséphin Péladan, who established the Salon de la Rose + Croix. The Salon hosted a series of six presentations of avant-garde art, writing and music during the 1890s, to give a presentation space for artists embracing spiritualism, mysticism, and idealism in their work. A number of Symbolists were associated with the Salon.
Symbolists believed that art should represent absolute truths that could only be described indirectly. Thus, they wrote in a very metaphorical and suggestive manner, endowing particular images or objects with symbolic meaning. Jean Moréas published the Symbolist Manifesto ("Le Symbolisme") in Le Figaro on 18 September 1886 (see 1886 in poetry). The Symbolist Manifesto names Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Paul Verlaine as the three leading poets of the movement. Moréas announced that symbolism was hostile to "plain meanings, declamations, false sentimentality and matter-of-fact description", and that its goal instead was to "clothe the Ideal in a perceptible form" whose "goal was not in itself, but whose sole purpose was to express the Ideal."
In a nutshell, as Mallarmé writes in a letter to his friend Henri Cazalis, 'to depict not the thing but the effect it produces'.
The symbolist poets wished to liberate techniques of versification in order to allow greater room for "fluidity", and as such were sympathetic with the trend toward free verse, as evident in the poems of Gustave Kahn and Ezra Pound. Symbolist poems were attempts to evoke, rather than primarily to describe; symbolic imagery was used to signify the state of the poet's soul. T. S. Eliot was influenced by the poets Jules Laforgue, Paul Valéry and Arthur Rimbaud who used the techniques of the Symbolist school, [ by whom? ] that 'Imagism' was the style to which both Pound and Eliot subscribed (see Pound's Des Imagistes). Synesthesia was a prized experience[ citation needed ]; poets sought to identify and confound the separate senses of scent, sound, and colour. In Baudelaire's poem Correspondences (which mentions forêts de symboles ("forests of symbols") and is considered the touchstone of French Symbolism):though it has also been said
and Rimbaud's poem Voyelles:
– both poets seek to identify one sense experience with another. The earlier Romanticism of poetry used symbols, but these symbols were unique and privileged objects. The symbolists were more extreme, investing all things, even vowels and perfumes, with potential symbolic value. "The physical universe, then, is a kind of language that invites a privileged spectator to decipher it, although this does not yield a single message so much as a superior network of associations."Symbolist symbols are not allegories, intended to represent; they are instead intended to evoke particular states of mind. The nominal subject of Mallarmé's "Le cygne" ("The Swan") is of a swan trapped in a frozen lake. Significantly, in French, cygne is a homophone of signe , a sign. The overall effect is of overwhelming whiteness; and the presentation of the narrative elements of the description is quite indirect:
Of the several attempts at defining the essence of symbolism, perhaps none was more influential than Paul Verlaine's 1884 publication of a series of essays on Tristan Corbière, Arthur Rimbaud, Stéphane Mallarmé, Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, Gérard de Nerval, and "Pauvre Lelian" ("Poor Lelian", an anagram of Paul Verlaine's own name), each of whom Verlaine numbered among the poètes maudits , "accursed poets."
Verlaine argued that in their individual and very different ways, each of these hitherto neglected poets found genius a curse; it isolated them from their contemporaries, and as a result these poets were not at all concerned to avoid hermeticism and idiosyncratic writing styles.They were also portrayed as at odds with society, having tragic lives, and often given to self-destructive tendencies. These traits were not hindrances but consequences of their literary gifts. Verlaine's concept of the poète maudit in turn borrows from Baudelaire, who opened his collection Les fleurs du mal with the poem Bénédiction , which describes a poet whose internal serenity remains undisturbed by the contempt of the people surrounding him.
In this conception of genius and the role of the poet, Verlaine referred indirectly to the aesthetics of Arthur Schopenhauer, the philosopher of pessimism, who maintained that the purpose of art was to provide a temporary refuge from the world of strife of the will.
Schopenhauer's aesthetics represented shared concerns with the symbolist programme; they both tended to consider Art as a contemplative refuge from the world of strife and will. As a result of this desire for an artistic refuge, the symbolists used characteristic themes of mysticism and otherworldliness, a keen sense of mortality, and a sense of the malign power of sexuality, which Albert Samain termed a "fruit of death upon the tree of life."Mallarmé's poem Les fenêtres expresses all of these themes clearly. A dying man in a hospital bed, seeking escape from the pain and dreariness of his physical surroundings, turns toward his window but then turns away in disgust from
and in contrast, he "turns his back on life" (tourne l’épaule à la vie) and he exclaims:
The symbolist style has frequently been confused with the Decadent movement, the name derived from French literary critics in the 1880s, suggesting the writers were self indulgent and obsessed with taboo subjects.A few writers embraced the term while most avoided it. Jean Moréas' manifesto was largely a response to this polemic. By the late 1880s, the terms "symbolism" and "decadence" were understood to be almost synonymous. Though the aesthetics of the styles can be considered similar in some ways, the two remain distinct. The symbolists were those artists who emphasized dreams and ideals; the Decadents cultivated précieux , ornamented, or hermetic styles, and morbid subject matters. The subject of the decadence of the Roman Empire was a frequent source of literary images and appears in the works of many poets of the period, regardless of which name they chose for their style, as in Verlaine's "Langueur":
A number of important literary publications were founded by symbolists or became associated with the style. The first was La Vogue initiated in April 1886. In October of that same year, Jean Moréas, Gustave Kahn, and Paul Adam began the periodical Le Symboliste . One of the most important symbolist journals was Mercure de France , edited by Alfred Vallette, which succeeded La Pléiade; founded in 1890, this periodical endured until 1965. Pierre Louÿs initiated La conque , a periodical whose symbolist influences were alluded to by Jorge Luis Borges in his story Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote . Other symbolist literary magazines included La Revue blanche , La Revue wagnérienne , La Plume and La Wallonie .
Rémy de Gourmont and Félix Fénéon were literary critics associated with symbolism. The symbolist and decadent literary styles were satirized by a book of poetry, Les Déliquescences d'Adoré Floupette , published in 1885 by Henri Beauclair and Gabriel Vicaire.
Symbolism in literature is distinct from symbolism in art although the two were similar in many aspects. In painting, symbolism can be seen as a revival of some mystical tendencies in the Romantic tradition, and was close to the self-consciously morbid and private decadent movement.
There were several rather dissimilar groups of Symbolist painters and visual artists, which included Paul Gauguin, Gustave Moreau, Gustav Klimt, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, Jacek Malczewski, Odilon Redon, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Henri Fantin-Latour, Gaston Bussière, Edvard Munch, Félicien Rops, and Jan Toorop. Symbolism in painting was even more widespread geographically than symbolism in poetry, affecting Mikhail Vrubel, Nicholas Roerich, Victor Borisov-Musatov, Martiros Saryan, Mikhail Nesterov, Léon Bakst, Elena Gorokhova in Russia, as well as Frida Kahlo in Mexico[ citation needed ], Elihu Vedder, Remedios Varo, Morris Graves and David Chetlahe Paladin in the United States. Auguste Rodin is sometimes considered a symbolist sculptor.
The symbolist painters used mythological and dream imagery. The symbols used by symbolism are not the familiar emblems of mainstream iconography but intensely personal, private, obscure and ambiguous references. More a philosophy than an actual style of art, symbolism in painting influenced the contemporary Art Nouveau style and Les Nabis.
Symbolism had some influence on music as well. Many symbolist writers and critics were early enthusiasts of the music of Richard Wagner,an avid reader of Schopenhauer.
The symbolist aesthetic affected the works of Claude Debussy. His choices of libretti , texts, and themes come almost exclusively from the symbolist canon. Compositions such as his settings of Cinq poèmes de Charles Baudelaire , various art songs on poems by Verlaine, the opera Pelléas et Mélisande with a libretto by Maurice Maeterlinck, and his unfinished sketches that illustrate two Poe stories, The Devil in the Belfry and The Fall of the House of Usher , all indicate that Debussy was profoundly influenced by symbolist themes and tastes. His best known work, the Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune , was inspired by Mallarmé's poem, L'après-midi d'un faune .
The symbolist aesthetic also influenced Aleksandr Scriabin's compositions. Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire takes its text from German translations of the symbolist poems by Albert Giraud, showing an association between German expressionism and symbolism. Richard Strauss's 1905 opera Salomé , based on the play by Oscar Wilde, uses a subject frequently depicted by symbolist artists.
Symbolism's style of the static and hieratic adapted less well to narrative fiction than it did to poetry. Joris-Karl Huysmans' 1884 novel À rebours (English title: Against Nature or Against the Grain) explored many themes that became associated with the symbolist aesthetic. This novel, in which very little happens, catalogues the psychology of Des Esseintes, an eccentric, reclusive antihero. Oscar Wilde was influenced by the novel as he wrote Salome, and Huysman's book appears in The Picture of Dorian Gray : the titular character becomes corrupted after reading the book.
Paul Adam was the most prolific and representative author of symbolist novels. Les Demoiselles Goubert (1886), co-written with Jean Moréas, is an important transitional work between naturalism and symbolism. Few symbolists used this form. One exception was Gustave Kahn, who published Le Roi fou in 1896. In 1892, Georges Rodenbach wrote the short novel Bruges-la-morte , set in the Flemish town of Bruges, which Rodenbach described as a dying, medieval city of mourning and quiet contemplation: in a typically symbolist juxtaposition, the dead city contrasts with the diabolical re-awakening of sexual desire.The cynical, misanthropic, misogynistic fiction of Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly is sometimes considered symbolist, as well. Gabriele d'Annunzio wrote his first novels in the symbolist manner.
The characteristic emphasis on an internal life of dreams and fantasies have made symbolist theatre difficult to reconcile with more recent trends. Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's drama Axël (rev. ed. 1890) is a definitive symbolist play. In it, two Rosicrucian aristocrats become enamored of each other while trying to kill each other, only to agree to commit suicide mutually because nothing in life could equal their fantasies. From this play, Edmund Wilson adopted the title Axel's Castle for his influential study of the symbolist literary aftermath.
Maurice Maeterlinck, also a symbolist playwright, wrote The Blind (1890), The Intruder (1890), Interior (1891), Pelléas and Mélisande (1892), and The Blue Bird (1908). Eugénio de Castro is considered one of the introducers of Symbolism in the Iberian Peninsula. He wrote Belkiss, "dramatic prose-poem" as he called it, about the doomed passion of Belkiss, The Queen of Sheba, to Solomon, depicting in an avant-guard and violent style the psychological tension and recreating very accurately the tenth century BC Israel. He also wrote King Galaor and Polycrates' Ring, being one the most prolific Symbolist theoriticians.
Lugné-Poe (1869–1940) was an actor, director, and theatre producer of the late nineteenth century. Lugné-Poe "sought to create a unified nonrealistic theatre of poetry and dreams through atmospheric staging and stylized acting".Upon learning about symbolist theatre, he never wanted to practice any other form. After beginning as an actor in the Théâtre Libre and Théâtre d'Art, Lugné-Poe grasped on to the symbolist movement and founded the Théâtre de l'Œuvre where he was manager from 1892 until 1929. Some of his greatest successes include opening his own symbolist theatre, producing the first staging of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi (1896), and introducing French theatregoers to playwrights such as Ibsen and Strindberg.
The later works of the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov have been identified by essayist Paul Schmidt as being much influenced by symbolist pessimism.Both Konstantin Stanislavski and Vsevolod Meyerhold experimented with symbolist modes of staging in their theatrical endeavors.
Drama by symbolist authors formed an important part of the repertoire of the Théâtre de l'Œuvre and the Théâtre d'Art .
The wind, the wind!
It will not let you go. The wind, the wind!
Through God's whole world it blows
The wind is weaving
The white snow.
Brother ice peeps from below
Stumbling and tumbling
Folk slip and fall.
God pity all!
Night, street and streetlight, drug store,
The purposeless, half-dim, drab light.
For all the use live on a quarter century –
Nothing will change. There's no way out.
You'll die – and start all over, live twice,
Everything repeats itself, just as it was:
Night, the canal's rippled icy surface,
The drug store, the street, and streetlight.
"Night, street and streetlight, drugstore..." (1912) Trans. by Alex Cigale
Among English-speaking artists, the closest counterpart to symbolism was aestheticism. The Pre-Raphaelites were contemporaries of the earlier symbolists, and have much in common with them. Symbolism had a significant influence on modernism, (Remy de Gourmont considered the Imagists were its descendants)and its traces can also be detected in the work of many modernist poets, including T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Conrad Aiken, Hart Crane, and W. B. Yeats in the anglophone tradition and Rubén Darío in Hispanic literature. The early poems of Guillaume Apollinaire have strong affinities with symbolism. Early Portuguese Modernism was heavily influenced by Symbolist poets, especially Camilo Pessanha; Fernando Pessoa had many affinities to Symbolism, such as mysticism, musical versification, subjectivism and transcendentalism.
Edmund Wilson's 1931 study Axel's Castle focuses on the continuity with symbolism and several important writers of the early twentieth century, with a particular emphasis on Yeats, Eliot, Paul Valéry, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein. Wilson concluded that the symbolists represented a dreaming retreat into
things that are dying–the whole belle-lettristic tradition of Renaissance culture perhaps, compelled to specialize more and more, more and more driven in on itself, as industrialism and democratic education have come to press it closer and closer.
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After the beginning of the 20th century, symbolism had a major effect on Russian poetry even as it became less popular in France. Russian symbolism, steeped in the Eastern Orthodoxy and the religious doctrines of Vladimir Solovyov, had little in common with the French style of the same name. It began the careers of several major poets such as Alexander Blok, Andrei Bely, and Marina Tsvetaeva. Bely's novel Petersburg (1912) is considered the greatest example of Russian symbolist prose.
Primary influences on the style of Russian Symbolism were the irrationalistic and mystical poetry and philosophy of Fyodor Tyutchev and Solovyov, the novels of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the operas of Richard Wagner, [ citation needed ] and Friedrich Nietzsche, French symbolist and decadent poets (such as Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine and Charles Baudelaire), and the dramas of Henrik Ibsen.the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer
The style was largely inaugurated by Nikolai Minsky's article The Ancient Debate (1884) and Dmitry Merezhkovsky's book On the Causes of the Decline and on the New Trends in Contemporary Russian Literature (1892). Both writers promoted extreme individualism and the act of creation. Merezhkovsky was known for his poetry as well as a series of novels on god-men, among whom he counted Christ, Joan of Arc, Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon, and (later) Hitler. His wife, Zinaida Gippius, also a major poet of early symbolism, opened a salon in St Petersburg, which came to be known as the "headquarters of Russian decadence". Andrei Bely's Petersburg (novel) a portrait of the social strata of the Russian capital, is frequently cited as a late example of Symbolism in 20th century Russian literature.
In Romania, symbolists directly influenced by French poetry first gained influence during the 1880s, when Alexandru Macedonski reunited a group of young poets associated with his magazine Literatorul . Polemicizing with the established Junimea and overshadowed by the influence of Mihai Eminescu, Romanian symbolism was recovered as an inspiration during and after the 1910s, when it was exampled by the works of Tudor Arghezi, Ion Minulescu, George Bacovia, Mateiu Caragiale, Tristan Tzara and Tudor Vianu, and praised by the modernist magazine Sburătorul .
The symbolist painters were an important influence on expressionism and surrealism in painting, two movements which descend directly from symbolism proper. The harlequins, paupers, and clowns of Pablo Picasso's "Blue Period" show the influence of symbolism, and especially of Puvis de Chavannes. In Belgium, symbolism became so popular that it came to be known as a national style, particularly in landscape painting:the static strangeness of painters like René Magritte can be considered as a direct continuation of symbolism. The work of some symbolist visual artists, such as Jan Toorop, directly affected the curvilinear forms of art nouveau.
Many early motion pictures also employ symbolist visual imagery and themes in their staging, set designs, and imagery. The films of German expressionism owe a great deal to symbolist imagery. The virginal "good girls" seen in the cinema of D. W. Griffith, and the silent film "bad girls" portrayed by Theda Bara, both show the continuing influence of symbolism, as do the Babylonian scenes from Griffith's Intolerance . Symbolist imagery lived on longest in horror film: as late as 1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr showed the obvious influence of symbolist imagery; parts of the film resemble tableau vivant re-creations of the early paintings of Edvard Munch.
(listed by year of birth)
German and Austrian
See Also: Young Poland movement
English language authors who influenced or were influenced by symbolism include:
(listed by year of birth)
Charles Pierre Baudelaire was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and one of the first translators of Edgar Allan Poe.
Stéphane Mallarmé, pen name of Étienne Mallarmé, was a French poet and critic. He was a major French symbolist poet, and his work anticipated and inspired several revolutionary artistic schools of the early 20th century, such as Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, and Surrealism.
Paul Fort was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. At the age of 18, reacting against the Naturalistic theatre, Fort founded the Théâtre d'Art (1890–93). He also founded and edited the literary reviews Livre d'Art with Alfred Jarry and Vers et Prose (1905–14) with poet Guillaume Apollinaire, which published the work of Paul Valéry and other important Symbolist writers. Fort is notable for his enormous volume of poetry, having published more than thirty volumes of ballads and, according to Amy Lowell for creating the polyphonic prose form in his 'Ballades francaises'.
Paul-Marie Verlaine was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement and the Decadent movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siècle in international and French poetry.
Jean Moréas, was a Greek poet, essayist, and art critic, who wrote mostly in the French language but also in Greek during his youth.
Gustave Kahn was a French Symbolist poet and art critic. He was also active, via publishing and essay-writing, in defining Symbolism and distinguishing it from the Decadent Movement.
Valery Yakovlevich Bryusov was a Russian poet, prose writer, dramatist, translator, critic and historian. He was one of the principal members of the Russian Symbolist movement.
Henri-François-Joseph de Régnier was a French symbolist poet, considered one of the most important of France during the early 20th century.
French poetry is a category of French literature. It may include Francophone poetry composed outside France and poetry written in other languages of France.
Russian symbolism was an intellectual and artistic movement predominant at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. It represented the Russian branch of the symbolist movement in European art, and was mostly known for its contributions to Russian poetry.
19th-century French literature concerns the developments in French literature during a dynamic period in French history that saw the rise of Democracy and the fitful end of Monarchy and Empire. The period covered spans the following political regimes: Napoleon Bonaparte's Consulate (1799–1804) and Empire (1804–1814), the Restoration under Louis XVIII and Charles X (1814–1830), the July Monarchy under Louis Philippe d'Orléans (1830–1848), the Second Republic (1848–1852), the Second Empire under Napoleon III (1852–1871), and the first decades of the Third Republic (1871–1940).
Parnassianism was a French literary style that began during the positivist period of the 19th century, occurring after romanticism and prior to symbolism. The style was influenced by the author Théophile Gautier as well as by the philosophical ideas of Arthur Schopenhauer.
The Decadent movement was a late-19th-century artistic and literary movement, centered in Western Europe, that followed an aesthetic ideology of excess and artificiality. The visual artist Félicien Rops's body of work and Joris-Karl Huysmans's novel Against Nature (1884) are considered the prime examples of the decadent movement. It first flourished in France and then spread throughout Europe and to the United States. The movement was characterized by self-disgust, sickness at the world, general skepticism, delight in perversion, and employment of crude humor and a belief in the superiority of human creativity over logic and the natural world. Central to the decadent movement was the view that art is totally opposed to nature in the sense both of biological nature and of the standard, or "natural", norms of morality and sexual behaviour.
Decadentism or the Decadent movement was a late 19th century artistic, literary and philosophical movement originated in Western Europe; poets and writers of the time conceived literature and art as the only true power and followed an aesthetic ideology. The movement was characterised by feelings of disgust and sickness towards the society of the time, artists used a crude humor to express their emotions and strongly believed in the superiority of human creativity over the logic and natural world. This revolution of resistance represented the transition between romanticism and modernism as it tried to recover the traditional elements of medieval Europe in the face of a more industrialised one. "After an initial period, aestheticism slowly degenerated into what, between 1880 and 1890, was better known as Decadentism and after 1890, in France, it was replaced by the term 'Symbolism’
Dai Wangshu, also Tai Van-chou, was a Chinese poet, essayist and translator active from the late 1920s to the end of the 1940s. A native of Hangzhou, Zhejiang, he graduated from the Aurora University, Shanghai in 1926, majoring in French.
The Symbolist Movement in Literature, first published in 1899, and with additional material in 1919, is a work by Arthur Symons largely credited with bringing French Symbolism to the attention of Anglo-American literary circles. Its first two editions were vital influences on W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot—a note that, for nothing else, would assure its historical place with the most important early Modernist criticism. Richard Ellmann has contributed an Introduction to most modern editions.
Le Parnasse contemporain is composed of three volumes of poetry collections, published in 1866, 1871 and 1876 by the editor Alphonse Lemerre, which included a hundred French poets, such as Leconte de Lisle, Théodore de Banville, Heredia, Gautier, Catulle Mendès, Baudelaire, Sully Prudhomme, Mallarmé, François Coppée, Charles Cros, Léon Dierx, Louis Ménard, Verlaine, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam and Anatole France.
The Symbolist Manifesto was published on 18 September 1886 in the French newspaper Le Figaro by the Greek-born poet and essayist Jean Moréas. It describes a new literary movement, an evolution from and rebellion against both romanticism and naturalism, and it asserts the name of Symbolism as not only the appropriate for that movement, but also uniquely reflective of how creative minds approach the creation of art.
The Symbolist movement in Romania, active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, marked the development of Romanian culture in both literature and visual arts. Bringing the assimilation of France's Symbolism, Decadence and Parnassianism, it promoted a distinctly urban culture, characterized by cosmopolitanism, Francophilia and endorsement of Westernization, and was generally opposed to either rural themes or patriotic displays in art. Like its Western European counterparts, the movement stood for idealism, sentimentalism or exoticism, alongside a noted interest in spirituality and esotericism, covering on its own the ground between local Romanticism and the emerging modernism of the fin de siècle. Despite such unifying traits, Romanian Symbolism was an eclectic, factionalized and often self-contradictory current.
Ștefan Petică was a Romanian Symbolist poet, prose writer, playwright, journalist and socialist activist. Born in the countryside of Tecuci, he early displayed a voracious appetite for literature and philosophy. After high school, he made his way to the national capital Bucharest, where university studies soon gave way to low-paid newspaper work. Petică published one volume of poetry before his premature death, and left his mark as one of the first exponents of the domestic Symbolist movement.
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