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978-0-520-00784-0 / 0520007840

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About the book:

Any attempt to define the Symbolist movement and its influence inevitably loses itself in a welter of detail. One can say that these late nineteenth-century French poets were revolting against fixed forms and inert molds; that they were attempting to express an inner ideal reality rather than the objective world; that they deliberately blurred sense impressions and sought correspondences where none had been observed before; that they have had a profound influence on contemporary avant-garde writing, noticeably in Hart Crane, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot. But in the end one has not said a great deal.
Whether viewed as influence or in and for themselves, the Symbolist are a tantalizing group. Paralleling similar movements in art and music, their intensely personal poetry leans more heavily on oblique suggestions and evocation than on overt statement. It sets its perceptions, intuitive and nonrational, squarely against intellectual and scientific thinking--and this with a music that is flexible, intrepid, and subtle, sometimes even dissonant and jazzy. But the poetry itself is the movements best definition.
Here in bilingual form, together with an introduction and illuminating notes, are some forty carefully selected poems of that movement. They range from the remote beginnings in Nerval and Bauldelaire, through the humor and irony of Corbière and Laforgue, to the technical brilliance of Valéry, who died as recently as 1945. For those who wish an over-all view of the movement, this is a generous sampling. For those who wish to delve more deeply, there are available excellent and more extensive translations by C.F. MacIntyre of Bauldelaire, Verlaine, Corbière, Mallarmé, and Rilke and by Patricia Terry of Laforgue.

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