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Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown


A literary movement encompassing the work of a group of writers working in France in the latter half of the nineteenth century, a group which included Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, Paul Valéry, Arthur Rimbaud, and others. According to Symbolism, there is a magical and mystical correspondence between the natural and spiritual worlds. By exploiting the connotative, associative, and evocative power of words, the poet, through his own suggestive private language, can obliquely express this correspondence and trigger a sympathetic vibration in the reader. The Symbolists had a great influence on British and American poets, especially on William Butler Yeats and T. S. Eliot.

© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
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University of Toronto English Library
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Last modified: March 31, 1997