Symbolist Literature Analysis

SymbolistLiterature Analysis

Thecontextual perspective of a piece of literature helps inunderstanding a reading by comprehending it context. The main levelsof understanding literary work are the historical and culturalcontext of the literature. The reading “The Symbolist Movement –AnIntroduction” presents a description of the movement thatintroduced the symbolism concept to literature. The reading exploresthe symbolist movement in literature by analyzing the development andthe significance of the movement. The reading reflects importanthistorical and cultural environment that relates to a certain timeand place of the literary work. The discussion in this paper willillustrate that the historical and cultural context contributessignificantly to the understanding of the content of the abovereading.

Thetime of the reading “The Symbolist Movement –An Introduction” is1886 when it was first written and published. The reading relates toa movement that was later confirmed by other authors who followed thesymbolist movement. Since first publication by Jean Moréas in 1886,the reading provides a reflection of the time when the symbolistmovement began (Balakian 19). To understand the time context of thereading, it is good to note that the symbolist movement was alsopublished by Arthur Symons who is credited with French symbolism inliterature. Although Symons piece of literature was published tenyears later, the reading relates to the above reading by giving itsvalidation as an introduction to the symbolist movement.

Tounderstand the reading better, the context of time is critical inplacing the reading and the author in the historical perspective. In1886, the article was written, just three years after the author,Jean Moréas wrote an essay “The Decadent Movement in Literature”that focused on literature and symbolism (Balakian 23). This placesthe current article, to a developmental stage of the author’scontent and conceptual development of the symbolism in literature. Byunderstanding the historical context, the reader understands how thereading relates to the current symbolism in literature. Consequently,the reader understands the contribution of the author and the readingto the development of the movement.

Theplace of the reading relates to the nationality of the author and theregion of publishing. This context introduces the aspect of culturalcontext that relates to the reading and gives a significant view ofunderstanding the reading. Smith and Thames (31) argue that Symonswork introduces the aspects of French symbolism in the circles ofEnglish and the American literature. The historical placing of thereading is the early developments of literary criticism and symbolismin literature. This gives the reader an introductory perspectiveabout the content of the reading and not a refined modern daysymbolism in literature. Consequently, a reader is able to not onlyunderstand the reading, but appreciate its content in relation to thetime and place of its publishing.

Tofurther understand the reading, it is imperative comprehend theexistence of other contents about symbolism in literature (Symons 7).This is because the reading quotes and describes concepts written byother authors about symbolism in literature. Understanding the timeand the historical placing of many symbolist writers and literatureof the century covered by the reading facilitates the understandingof what the writer means in the message about the topic. According toDorra (1), the ninetieth century writers and artists employedsymbolism to describe some concepts that the community could relatewith but not able to elaborate in express terms. Therefore, a readerunderstands the mysticism and philosophies of symbolist artistsreferred to in the reading (Symons 1).

Thereading covers the writings of the late ninetieth century and alsocites the authors of the twentieth century. The understanding of thereading is therefore based on the holistic understanding of symbolismliterature covering the whole topic. In his book “The SymbolistMovement in Literature,” Symons (1), describes the development ofsymbolism in literature and art by using several the writings ofother authors. According to the events of Symons work, he publishedthe reading and covered a long time since 1882 to 1934 (Beckson andMunro 1). The content that covers the whole century and thehistorical context of the authors of various articles and books inthis time period is important for the introduction of the simplisticliterature that the reading describes.

Thecultural perspective of the reading relates to the English andAmerican cultures since they influenced the literature of the time.However, the French culture influences the cultural environment ofthe time the reading was written. Therefore, Symons is widelyconsidered as the person who introduced French symbolism through hiswork (Balakian 29). The application of historical and culturalperspective of a reading is important in the understanding of thereading “The Symbolist Movement –An Introduction.” The time andplace context helps the reader to place this reading in its historyand subsequently the cultural setting. Covering a period overcenturies, the symbolism in literature can only be explored byconsidering the contexts in history and culture as they relate to thereading. Therefore, to understand the reading, these contexts need tobe understood by relating to time and place.


Balakian,Anna, TheSymbolist Movement: a critical appraisal.London: Random House, 1967

Beckson,Karl and Munro, John. ArthurSymons: 1865–1945 – A Chronology.Web, Accessed, &lt

Dorra,Henri. SymbolistArt Theories: A Critical Anthology.California: University of California Press, Print, 1994

Lehmann,A.G., TheSymbolist Aesthetic in France 1885–1895. Oxford:Basil Blackwell, Print, 1968

Symons,Arthur. TheSymbolist Movement — An Introduction.Web, Accessed,&lt

Symons,Arthur. TheSymbolist Movement in Literature.Durton &amp Company., Print, 1919

Smith,Edward and Thames, Hudson. SymbolistArt (World of Art).Thames &amp Hudson, Print, 1985