The Symbolist Movement in the Literature of European Languages
Edited by Anna Balakian, this volume marks the first attempt to discuss Symbolism in a full range of the literatures written in the European languages. The scope of these analyses, which explore Latin America, Scandinavia, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria as well as West European literatures, continues to make the volume a valuable reference today. As René Wellek suggests in his historiographic contribution, the fifty-one contributors not only make us think afresh about individual authors who are “giants,” but also draw us to reassess schools and movements in their local as well as international contexts. Reviewers comment that this “copious and intelligently structured” anthology, divided into eight parts, traces the conceptual bases and emergence of an international Symbolist movement, showing the spread of Symbolism to other national literatures from French sources, as well as the symbiotic transformations of Symbolism through appropriation and amalgamation with local literary trends. Several chapters deal with the relationships between literature and the other arts, pointing to Symbolism at work in painting, music, and theatre. Other chapters on the psychological aspects of the Symbolist method connect in interesting ways to a vision of metaphor and myth as virtually musical notation and an experimental emphasis on the play afforded by gaps between words. The volume is “a major contribution” to “the most significant exponents” and “essential themes” of Symbolism. The theoretical, historical, and typological sections of the volume help explain why the impact of this important movement of the<i> fin-de-siècle </i>is still felt today.