Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

October 2005


Published in Nineteenth-Century French Studies, vol. 34, no. 1-2, Fall-Winter 2005-2006. Copyright 2005 University of Nebraska Press. Used by permission.


As emphases in literary studies have shifted away from structuralist, semiotic, and other modes of reading informed by theory toward historically-oriented esthetic and cultural analysis, we have needed a new examination of Symbolism that would account for its complexities both as a literary and artistic movement and as a “compound moment” in literary and cultural history. Jean-Nicolas Illouz has provided the foundation for such a reexamination. His study is, to my knowledge, the most complete and nuanced overview of the movement that we have, bringing together in a historically informed and carefully researched reading of Symbolism as both the point de rencontre for a multitude of literary, artistic and cultural currents of the French and Belgian fin-de-siècle and also as a decisive moment in the founding of literary Modernism.