By Arthur Symons
An excerpt from the INTRODUCTION:
with no symbolism there may be no literature; certainly, now not even language. What are phrases themselves yet symbols, nearly as arbitrary because the letters which compose them, mere sounds of the voice to which now we have agreed to provide definite significations, as now we have agreed to translate those sounds by way of these combos of letters? Symbolism begun with the 1st phrases uttered via the 1st guy, as he named each dwelling factor; or earlier than them, in heaven, while God named the realm into being. And we see, in those beginnings, accurately what Symbolism in literature particularly is: a sort of expression, on the most sensible yet approximate, basically yet arbitrary, till it has acquired the strength of a practice, for an unseen truth apprehended by way of the cognizance. it really is occasionally accredited to us to pray that our conference is certainly the mirrored image instead of basically the signal of that unseen truth. now we have performed a lot if we now have stumbled 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 recognized to each other. progressively the note prolonged its which means, till it got here to indicate each traditional illustration of notion via shape, of the unseen by way of the obvious. "In a Symbol," says Carlyle, "there is concealment and but revelation: therefore hence, via Silence and via Speech performing jointly, comes a double significance." And, in that tremendous bankruptcy of Sartor Resartus, he is going additional, vindicating for the note its complete worth: "In the logo right, what we will be able to name a logo, there's ever, roughly incredibly and without delay, a few embodiment and revelation of the countless; the countless is made to mix itself with the Finite, to face obvious, and because it have been, possible there."
it truly is in one of these experience as this that the notice Symbolism has been used to explain a circulation which, over the past iteration, has profoundly encouraged the process French literature. All such phrases, used of something so residing, variable, and irresponsible as literature, are, as symbols themselves needs to so usually be, mere compromises, mere symptoms. Symbolism, as visible within the writers of our day, may haven't any price if it weren't obvious additionally, below one conceal or one other, in each nice innovative author. What distinguishes the Symbolism of our day from the Symbolism of the prior is that it has now develop into aware of itself, in a feeling during which it was once subconscious even in Gérard de Nerval, to whom I hint the actual foundation of the literature which I name Symbolist, The forces which mold the idea of fellows swap, or men's resistance to them slackens; with the swap of men's suggestion comes a transformation of literature, alike in its inmost essence and in its outward shape: after the realm has starved its soul lengthy adequate 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 obvious global isn't any longer a fact, and the unseen international not a dream.