The Symbolist Movement in Literature by Arthur Symons

By Arthur Symons

First released in 1899, The Symbolist move in Literature used to be a hugely influential paintings of feedback, and served to introduce the French Symbolists to an Anglophone readership. Symons' curiosity in writers reminiscent of Paul Verlaine and Stephane Mallarme places him on the middle of up to date debates approximately Decadence and Symbolism in fin-de-siecle literature; yet his paintings used to be additionally a formative impression on modernist writers similar to Joyce, Eliot, Pound and Yeats, assisting to form the function of the picture in modernist writing. This new severe variation makes to be had a key textual content that has been out of print for over 50 years, and comprises the essays that Symons further to the extended variation of his publication in 1919. it is usually an creation, chronology and notes, including appendices featuring the entire textual content of Symons' essay 'The Decadent circulation in Literature' and a variety of his translations of poems through Verlaine and Mallarme.

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Answers to those questions – along the lines of a scientific development – have the effect of foreclosing various co-existing possibilities, possibilities characteristic of the topography Freud maps for consciousness in ‘Civilization and its Discontents’. In that essay Freud imagines the cities that were Rome superimposed, coexisting in time: all the buildings from every epoch piled on and into one another. The exercise of a particular consciousness in that circumstance is spectral, must involve some walking through walls.

It felt good. Just like an amputated leg. Next thing I remember I was going somewhere. It was not my idea. The rest of it was a crazy, cooked up dream. ’ Loss of conscious control of the mind’s imagery may furnish a frightening view, as for instance in de Quincey’s account of what one might consider the oneiric sublime: as the creative state of the eye increased, a sympathy seemed to arise between the waking and the dreaming states of the brain in one point – that whatsoever I happened to call up and to trace by a voluntary act upon the darkness was very apt to transfer itself to my dreams; so that I feared to exercise this faculty; for, as Midas turned all things to gold, that yet baffled his hopes and defrauded his human desires, so whatsoever things capable of being visually represented I did but think of in the darkness, immediately shaped themselves into phantoms of the eye; and, by a process apparently no less inevitable, when thus once traced in faint and visionary colours, like writings in sympathetic ink, they were drawn out by the fierce chemistry of my dreams, into insufferable splendour that fretted my heart.

After the dreaminess of the first two phases in which images are selected and the bricolage of their arrangement is tried, comes the resolutely attentive work of finishing the poem – of forging it with hammer and tongs. Now the attention of the poet is outward again; rather it entails an effort at looking from the outside in. This is the symmetrical opposite of Keats’s negative capability: this is not taking part in the existence of the sparrow outside the window, this is leafing through one’s own work as if it were someone else’s, as if it were unknown.

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