French Poetry of the 19th Century

Various Authors (1800), translated by Kline, A. S. (contact-email)

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19th-century French poetry was marked by a transition from Romanticism to Symbolism. Victor Hugo’s work epitomised the romantic ethos, combining politics and personal passion. Gérard de Nerval and Alfred de Musset further developed the Romantic tradition, infusing introspection and melancholy. Théophile Gautier shifted towards Parnassianism, advocating “art for art’s sake” and formal perfection. The latter part of the century saw the emergence of Symbolism, with Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine rejecting overtly descriptive poetics in favour of suggestion and musicality. Jules Laforgue introduced a tone of ironic detachment and innovation in verse. The century closed with Guillaume Apollinaire, whose work bridged the gap to Modernism, incorporating avant-garde elements that would influence subsequent poetic movements.

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Kline, A. S.

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