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1014 The Idea of a Modern Art coloured substance of a certain amount of light.

From this, certain necessary coordiaations with subjective consequences ensue, as well as the tendency towards black ID painting and its impossibility to achieve at a given time the extreme luminosity h t exists in nature. It is this tendency towards darkness which eventually has a depmsixie effect and is the weakness of all former painting. Leonardo da Vinci's paintings only allow us to make out a mystery u itself from darkness; Rousseau's landscapes tend towards solidification. Howew powerful the art of the Impressionist masters, do they manage to portray live reality? After the ferocious struggle of the painter with light and the triumphant moment d the last brush stroke, the tribulations of the canvas begin. From then on it d he time's task to transform the real thing into a fantasy that exists neither in dreamsin reality. Even at first, during the gallery days, shadows of another hour c o r n e d diminish the work. Painting on glass would have, at certain times of the s topicality. One who was curious about exact suggestions could, through a si# system of rails, orchestrate a succession of landscapes on a glass-house, as well sa noon-time on fire with outside light and soften sunsets, conjure up the hour a d setting of legends through the presence of objects. Following a whim, one could i tint arabesques with different colours. Would this not be the magic dreamt by C h d s Baudelaire, the double room, multiple, evocative, happy, the escape from the cages4 today? All analogies encourage belief in the imminent bloom of this new art, all of l i g h t s strength, the bloom of works that will have flown far away from academic 4 conventional ideas.

Vie Symbolism 1015 [ . . .1 A new manifestation of art was. . .expected, necessary, inevitable. This manifestation, which has long been in gestation, has just been born. And all the anodyne jokes of the pranksters of the press, all the worries of the grave critics, all the illtemperedness of the public surprised in their sheep-like nonchalance, all this only affirms, more evidently every day, the vitality of the current evolution taking place in French literature, this evolution that hasty judges have classified, by an inexplicable antinomy, as decadence. Note, notwithstanding, that decadent literatures reveal themselves to be essentially hard-headed, long-winded, timorous and slavish: all Voltaire's tragedies, for example, are stamped by these marks of decadence. And what can we blame the new school for, what is it being blamed for? An abuse of pomp, a strangeness of metaphor, a new vocabulary where the harmonies combine with colours and lines: all the characteristics of a renaissance. We have already proposed the appellation of Symbolism as being the only one capable of reasonably designating the current tendency of the creative spirit in art. This appellation may be retained. [ . . . ] T h e enemy of teaching, of declamation, of false sensibility, of objective description, Symbolist poetry seeks to clothe the Idea with a sensible form which, nevertheless, would not be a goal in itself, but which, at the same time as expressing the Idea, would remain subject to it. The Idea, in its turn, must not be seen to be deprived of the sumptuous trappings of exterior analogies; for the essential character of Symbolist art consists in never going as far as the conception of the Idea itself. Thus, in this art, the scenes of nature, the actions of human beings, all concrete phenomena cannot manifest themselves as such: they are sensible appearances destined to represent their esoteric affinities with primordial Ideas. [ . . . ] In order to achieve a precise translation of its synthesis, Symbolism requires a complex and archetypal style: unpolluted terms, phrases which rear up alternating with phrases with undulating weaknesses, significant pleonasms, mysterious ellipses, anacoluthons in suspense, all the bold and multiform tropes: in short the wholesome language - established and modernized - the good and luxuriant and high-spirited French language of an age prior to the Vaugelas and the Boileau-Despreaux, the language of Francois Rabelais and of Phillippe de Commines, of Villon, of Ruteboeuf and of many other writers, free and shooting the sharp terms of language as did the poisonous archers of Thrace with their sinuous arrows. RHYTHM: Traditional metrics enlivened; a skilfully ordered disorder; a rhyme luminous and punctuated like a shield of gold and steel, juxtaposed with rhymes of abstruse fluidity; alexandrines with multiple and mobile pauses; the use of certain uneven lines.


4 Jean Morkas (1856-1910) 'Symbolism - a Manifesto'

Greek by birth, Moreas emigrated to Paris as a young man. He quickly became est there in the post-Baudelairean 'Decadent' literary circles out of which Symbol1 then emerging. In painting meanwhile, the break-up of the Impressionist group was ii~ train, with the appearance of the 'divisionist' group around Seurat (cf. Vle7). This is m a ! to say that these painters were Symbolists in the full sense of the word. Symbolism was% origin a literary movement, as Moreas's manifesto shows. It was not until the end d the decade that a confident sense of Symbolism emerged in the visual arts k f . -9 and 10). Nevertheless, enough shared principles were in evidence to indicate the risecfa new wave in the mid-1880s. These included an antipathy to Naturalism, an attraction to the ideas of Wagner and Schopenhauer, and in politics a widespread e anarchism. In August 1885 an article attacking the 'decadents' gained wide Moreas issued a quick response, avowing the term 'Symbolism' instead, and compose a positive statement of Symbolist principles the following year. H claiming that all arts, including literature, evolve cyclically, with new scho on the inevitable decline of their predecessors. Thus Romanticism had given way I t Naturalism; now Naturalism in its turn was finished. 'Symbolism - a Manifesto' mi^ originally published in the Supplement litteraire du Figaro, on 18 September 1886- B was reprinted as 'Le Symbolisme. Manifesto de Jean Moreas' in Les Premieres a m & Symbo~i'sme, Paris: Leon Vanier, 1889. The present translation was made by Atatc Kawakami for this volume.


Prose - novels, short stories, tales, fantasies - is evolving in a direction analogous to that of poetry. Elements which appear heterogeneous participate in this: Stendhal brings to it his translucid psychology, Balzac his exorbitant vision, Flaubert his cadences of amply unfurling sentences, M. Edmond de Goncourt his modern suggestive impressionism. The concept of the Symbolist novel is polymorphous: at times a single character struggles in an environment deformed by his own hallucinations and his temperament: in this deformation lies the sole reality. Beings with mechanical gestures and

1016 The Idea of a Modern Art silhouettes in shadow bustle around the single character: they are but pretexts for his sensations and conjectures. He himself is a tragic or comic mask of a hum* which is nevertheless perfect, although rational. - At times crowds, affected superficially by the totality of the surrounding representations, are carried alternatives of clashes and stagnant situations towards acts which remain una Occasionally, individual wills manifest themselves; they attract one another, become amalgamated and generalized towards the achievement of a goal which, whether it is reached or missed, scatters them back into their original elements- At times mythical phantasms are evoked, from the ancient Demogorgon to B e from the 'Kabires' to the Necromancers, appearing luxuriously attired on Caliban's rock or in Titania's forest accompanied by melodies in mixolydian mode on chords or barbitons. Thus, disdainful of the puerile method of Naturalism - M. Zola was saved by has marvellous writer's instinct - the Symbolist novel will edify its work o deformation, confident in this axiom: that in objectivity, art can only find a extremely limited point of departure.

Vie Symbolism 1017

Gustave Kahn (1859-1939) 'Response of the Symbolists'

The Symbolist manifesto published by Moreas in Figaro immediately generated a consavative backlash. In response to this, Gustave Kahn issued an amplification of the S position ten days later in another daily paper, L'Evenement. Along with Jules L Kahn was then pioneering the development of free verse. Four months earlie written in the journal La Vogue about the importance of colour in the plastic arts: colour conceived as a stimulus to the imagination rather than a way of accurately copying appearance of objects (see Vlc3). Here he stresses the importance of vocabulary rhythm in poetry for the same reason. Kahn explicitly cites Zola's Naturalist credo of artas 'nature seen through a temperament' (see I V A ~and ) sets it against the Symbolist dedkation to externalizing the subjective idea. The whole shift turns on the difference between subjectifying the objective' and 'objectifying the subjective'. Kahn's text was o published in L'EvMment, 28 September 1886. The present extract is from the tra in John Rewald, Post Impressionism from Van Gogh to Gauguin (19561, New York ad London: Seeker and Warburg, 1978 edition, pp. 134-5.
[ . . . ] What unifies this tendency is the negation of the old monochord technique d verse, the desire to divide rhythm, to give in the graphic quality of a stanza the scheaac of a sensation. With the evolution of minds, sensations become more complicatedthey need more appropriate words that are not worn out by twenty years of h a c l m q d usage. Moreover there is the normal expansion of a language through inevitaSaic neologisms and through the re-establishment of an ancient vocabulary n e c e s s i f e i by a return of the imagination to the epic and the marvellous. T h e main way in which we distinguish ourselves from all similar endeavours is chs we establish the fundamental principle of perpetual inflection of the verse, or beoa the stanza, which is considered the basic unit. Banal prose is the tool of c o n v e r s a f We claim for the novel the right to make the sentence rhythmic, to accentuate i oratorical quality; the tendency is towards a poem in prose, very mobile and with a

rhythmic pattern that varies according to the turn, the swing, the twisting, and the simplicity of the Idea. As to subject matter, we are tired of the quotidian, the near-at-hand, and the compulsorily contemporaneous; we wish to be able to place the development of the symbol in any period whatsoever, and even in outright dreams (the dream being indistinguzshable from life). We want to substitute the struggle of sensations and ideas for the struggle of individualities, and for the centre of action, instead of the well-exploited decor of squares and streets, we want the totality of part of a brain. The essential aim of our art is to objectify the subjective (the externalization of the Idea) instead of subjectifying the objective (nature seen through the eyes of a temperament). Analogous reflections have created the multitonal tone of Wagner and the recent technique of the impressionists. This is an adhesion of literature to scientific theories established by induction and controlled by the experimentation of M. Charles Henry, as stated in an introduction to the principles of a mathematical and experimental aesthetic. These theories are founded on the purely idealistic philosophical principle which prompts us to spurn all reality of matter and which admits the existence of the world only as representation. Thus we carry the analysis of the Selfto the extreme, we let the multiplicity and intertwining of rhythms harmonize with the measure of the Idea, we create literary enchantment by annulling the pattern of a forced and spiritual modernism, we compose a personal vocabulary based on the entire gamut of our work, and we endeavour to escape the banality of transmitted moulds.

6 Jean Moreas (1856-1910) 'Chronicle'

The years 1884-6 saw the appearance of a large number of Symbolist publications, some ephemeral, some longer lasting. In addition to the Revue Independante and Revue Wagnerienne, these included La Revue contemporahe, La Vogue and Le Symboliste. The editorial group of Le Symboliste, which ran for only four issues, included Gustave Kahn and Paul Adam. as well as Moreas. Moreas's short piece entitled 'Chronique' appeared on the front page of the first issue. The text inhabits a shadowland between obsessive description and flight of fancy, the line beyond which Naturalism tips over into something else; which is precisely Moreas's point. The real is fantastic, and an art which is to grasp the phantasmagoric aspect of modernity must escape the shackle of Naturalism. 'Chronique' was first published in Le Symboliste, no. 1, 7-14 October 1886. The original text was translated for the present volume by Akane Kawakami. Under the weight of the flattened skies, in the vehement light of the street lamps, the monstrous and shifty-eyed houses line the street. The carriage wheels bustle about to the limping rhythm of the geldings and the piebald mares; here, the musettes keep time with the leaps of the jesters, lit up in the lamplight, there, the untrustworthy mouths of bald good-for-nothings proclaim the virtue of trinkets. Wearing full-length coats with rolled-up collars, chins covered with hair an ell long, or chancred, or covered with ulcers, are the gentlemen. With abortive smiles and conquered hair-dos, are the women, obsessed with their bodies; on divans and in Agenouzllke poses in shadowy gardens, their glottis paralysed, women obsessed with their bodies, in veiled