Original Research

Digterskap en poëtíkale besinning by vier Franse Simboliste

L. Peeters
Literator | Vol 13, No 1 | a729 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v13i1.729 | © 1992 L. Peeters | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 May 1992 | Published: 06 May 1992

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L. Peeters, Universiteit van Pretoria, South Africa

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When one studies the influence of French Symbolism on contemporary Western poetry it is necessary to define both Symbolism and influence. The first term is problematic not only because it is difficult to delimitate the reality it designates but because of the nature of the movement itself Rather than defining from the outside we will try to understand the genesis of the work of the four great 'symbolist’ poets in France, namely Nerval, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarme. We do not consider the notion of influence as causal but as a confrontation from one poet’s work with that of another, the presence of poets of the past in the thinking of later poets. The structural genesis of the poetics of the four poets shows a marked resemblance in as far as they' all overestimate the creative capabilities of imagination and language. Their poetry is not so much a meditation about the essence of poetry as an interrogation about its power to change reality. Modem poetry develops thus inside a tension between dream and action, but it is only now, in the work of the most lucid contemporary' poets, and after the sometimes draconian claims of theory in the human sciences, that attention has focused on a possible solution of poetry's dilemma which was already present in the French poet's work: this solution can be indicated with the word caritas in the strong sense of the word namely the acceptation of contingency, the need of incarnation and the pursuit of universality through poetic language.


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