Symbolism, Its Origins and Its Consequences
The notion of the symbol is at the root of the Symbolist movement, but this symbol is different from the way it was used and understood in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In the Symbolist movement, a symbol is not an allegory. The Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck defined its essence in an article that appeared on April 24, 1887, in L’Art moderne. He wrote that the notion of a symbol in the Symbolist movement is the opposite of the notion of the symbol in classical usage: instead of going from the abstract to the concrete (Venus, incarnated in the statue, represents love), it goes from the concrete to the abstract, from “what is seen, heard, felt, tasted, and sensed to the evocation of the idea.”
This volume attempts to give a glimpse into the power of the Symbolist movement and the nature of its fundamental and interdisciplinary role in the evolution of art and literature of the twentieth century. It records the studies of a group of scholars, who met and discussed these topics together for the first time in 2009. While illuminating the specificity of Symbolism in art, architecture and literature in different European countries, these articles also demonstrate the crucial role of French Symbolism in the development of the international Symbolist movement.
The authors hope that an expanding group, a society of Art, Literature and Music in Symbolism and Decadence (ALMSD), born out of the first meeting, will continue to further this discussion at future conferences and in the printed conference proceedings.
This book is part of a series. View the full series, "Art, Literature and Music in Symbolism, Its Origins and Its Consequences", here.
Rosina Neginsky is Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies. She teaches Comparative Literature and Art History at the University of Illinois at Springfield, USA. Her area of expertise is English, French and Russian art and literature between 1850 and 1920. She is the author of the book Zinaida Vengerova: In Search of Beauty. A Literary Ambassador between East and West, which underwent two editions, and of a forthcoming book Salome: The Image of a Woman Who Never Was. Neginsky has authored numerous articles on Russian and European artists, poets and writers and three books of poetry; organized the international interdisciplinary conference, Symbolism, Its Origins and Its Consequences, which is the basis for the volume Symbolism, Its Origins and Its Consequences; and curated two art exhibits. She is the president and founder of an international interdisciplinary organization: Art, Literature, Music in Symbolism and Decadence (ALMSD). She has received numerous awards from the National Endowment for Humanities and IREX, and is a recipient of the University Scholar Award, the most prestigious University of Illinois award, which celebrates intellectual and creative achievements of the University of Illinois faculty.
“The high quality of the scholarship, the exceptionally broad chronological range and the truly international and multi-disciplinary nature of the subjects covered make the book a unique and valuable contribution to the study of Symbolism.”
—Peter Cooke, Senior Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Manchester
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