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Definition Main Characteristics Main Figures Charles Baudelaire Walter Pater
Definition: A literary and cultural disposition which resisted the main streams of thought in realism and naturalism and presented an alternative set of concerns: with language, with poetic form, with evocation of mental states and ideal worlds, and the most intimate recesses of human subjectivity.
Main Characteristics:1. Symbolism was a reaction against realism and naturalism, which were based on description.2. Symbolism rejected the idea that language was referential, that words were somehow the signs of a pre-given reality.3. Reality is an interpretation from a particular perspective.
Main Characteristics:4. The symbolists refused to take the material world they had inherited as the real world.5. They saw the present world as an imperfect reflection or expression of a higher, infinite, and eternal realm which could be evoked by symbols.
Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) Known as the founder of French symbolism. Baudelaire’s famous or infamous collection of poems, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), was published in 1857
Walter Pater (1839–1894) Walter Pater is best known for his phrase “art for art’s sake.” In his insistence on artistic autonomy, on aesthetic experience as opposed to aesthetic object. His experience eventually inspired his The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry (1873).