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Candida Smith investigates the intellectual context in which symbolists came to view artistic practice as a form of knowledge. He relates their work to psychology, especially the ideas of William James, and to language and the emergence of semantics. Through the lens of symbolism, he focuses on a variety of subjects: sexual liberation and the erotic, anarchism, utopianism, labor, and women's creative role. Paradoxically, the symbolists' reconfiguration of elite culture fit effectively into the modern commercial media. After Mallarme was rescued from obscurity, symbolism became a valuable commodity, exported by France to America and elsewhere in the market-driven turn-of-the-century world. Mallarme's Children traces not only how poets regarded their poetry and artists their art but also how the public learned to think in new ways about cultural work and to behave differently as a result.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Symbolism (Literary movement)Literature and society, Mallarm‚e, St‚ephane, 1842-1898 Criticism and interpretation, French literature 19th century History and criticism, France Intellectual life 19th century, American literature 19th century History and criticism, American literature 20th century History and criticism