Importance of Symbolism

Known and remembered as one of the most significant literary movements of Modernity, symbolism represented numerous elements that changed the literature of the time and contributed novel structures as well as themes to literary creation.

Ideology and significance behind the symbolism

As its name says, symbolism was consolidated as a literary movement that paid special attention to symbolism and that strongly opposed what was considered already worn out and in decline, realism in all areas of art. In the same way that romanticism had done before in painting, symbolism sought to return to dark, complex, passionate themes of crisis and suffering to tell how society was understood at the time.

Symbolism developed at the end of the 19th century, in a society that was beginning to show certain cracks in terms of technology and modernity, the abuse of nature and landscapes, of the growing economies that did not necessarily augur better quality. of life, etc. All these elements are central in the stories of symbolism as well as in the literary structures that meant a rethinking of certain accepted parameters.

The main representatives of the movement

Literary symbolism had its main representatives in poets such as Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine and Stéphane Mallarmé. All of them belonged to approximately the same generation of poets who sought to embellish the harsh reality that surrounded them and which was increasingly harsh in cosmopolitan cities like Paris.

The poems of these writers have been recognized worldwide as representatives of a very clear time in Western literature, since they escaped the traditional canons and sought to represent both new themes (such as the presence of spiritual, magical beings, the themes of sins and pleasure, as well as human suffering, surrender to other worlds, etc.), even through novel forms and structures.

Influence on other artistic branches

While the strong symbolism was literature, it is possible to find elements of this movement in other branches of art, especially sculpture and painting. In this sense, a representative sculptor of these motifs and trends was Rodin, who built sculptures brimming with corporeality, movement, suffering, pain and expressiveness.

Regarding painting, most of the symbolist representatives were French but none of them became a type of artist of great international recognition.


by Abdullah Sam
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