By Arthur Symons
An excerpt from the INTRODUCTION:
with out symbolism there should be no literature; certainly, no longer even language. What are phrases themselves yet symbols, nearly as arbitrary because the letters which compose them, mere sounds of the voice to which we now have agreed to offer definite significations, as we've got agreed to translate those sounds by way of these combos of letters? Symbolism started with the 1st phrases uttered through the 1st guy, as he named each residing factor; or ahead of them, in heaven, whilst God named the realm into being. And we see, in those beginnings, accurately what Symbolism in literature relatively is: a sort of expression, on the top yet approximate, primarily yet arbitrary, till it has got the strength of a practice, for an unseen fact apprehended by means of the awareness. it really is occasionally authorized to us to wish that our conference is certainly the mirrored image instead of basically the signal of that unseen fact. we've got performed a lot if we've chanced on a recognisable signal.
"A symbol," says Comte Goblet d'Alviella, in his ebook on The Migration of Symbols, "might be outlined as a illustration which doesn't goal at being a reproduction." initially, as he issues out, utilized by the Greeks to indicate "the halves of the capsule they divided among themselves as a pledge of hospitality," it got here for use of each signal, formulation, or ceremony in which these initiated in any secret made themselves secretly identified to each other. steadily the be aware prolonged its which means, until eventually it got here to indicate each traditional illustration of concept through shape, of the unseen by way of the obvious. "In a Symbol," says Carlyle, "there is concealment and but revelation: for that reason accordingly, by means of Silence and by means of Speech performing jointly, comes a double significance." And, in that nice bankruptcy of Sartor Resartus, he is going additional, vindicating for the observe its complete price: "In the emblem right, what we will name a logo, there's ever, roughly fairly and without delay, a few embodiment and revelation of the limitless; the endless is made to combination itself with the Finite, to face noticeable, and because it have been, possible there."
it's in this sort of feel as this that the notice Symbolism has been used to explain a flow which, over the last iteration, has profoundly motivated the process French literature. All such phrases, used of something so dwelling, variable, and irresponsible as literature, are, as symbols themselves needs to so usually be, mere compromises, mere symptoms. Symbolism, as noticeable within the writers of our day, might haven't any worth if it weren't visible additionally, less than one hide or one other, in each nice innovative author. What distinguishes the Symbolism of our day from the Symbolism of the earlier is that it has now turn into aware of itself, in a feeling within which it used to be subconscious even in Gérard de Nerval, to whom I hint the actual starting place of the literature which I name Symbolist, The forces which mildew the idea of guys swap, or men's resistance to them slackens; with the swap of men's concept comes a metamorphosis of literature, alike in its inmost essence and in its outward shape: after the realm has starved its soul lengthy sufficient within the contemplation and the re-arrangement of fabric issues, comes the flip of the soul; and with it comes the literature of which I write during this quantity, a literature during which the noticeable international isn't any longer a truth, and the unseen international now not a dream.