Twenty-First-Century Symbolism

BookTwenty-First-Century Symbolism

Twenty-First-Century Symbolism

Verlaine, Baudelaire, Mallarmé

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 86


May 1st, 2022





How do the writings of Baudelaire, Verlaine and Mallarmé speak to our time? Why should we continue to read these poets today? How might a contemporary reading of their poetry differ from readings delivered in previous centuries? Twenty-First Century Symbolism argues that Baudelaire, Verlaine and Mallarmé prefigure a view of human subjectivity that is appropriate for our times: we cannot be separated from the worlds in which we live and evolve; human beings both mediate and are mediations of the environments we traverse and that traverse us, whether these are natural, urban, linguistic or technological environments. The ambition of the book is therefore twofold: on the one hand, it aims to offer new readings of the three poets, demonstrating their continued relevance for contemporary debates, putting them into dialogue with a philosophical corpus that has not yet played a role in the study of 19th century French poetry; on the other, the book relies on the three poets to establish an understanding of human subjectivity that is in tune with our 21st century concerns.

“This excellent monograph will find a broad, enthusiastic readership in the fields of French literature and critical theory, encompassing a wide variety of areas such as ecocriticism, phenomenology, affect, and various branches of the digital humanities. The field of nineteenth-century French literature will benefit enormously from this study, which significantly refreshes the way in which we approach well-known texts (too well-known, one often feels) using ambitious, cutting-edge critical lenses.”
David Evans, University of St Andrews

Author Information

Nikolaj Lübecker is Professor of French and Film Studies in St John’s College, University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Twenty-First-Century Symbolism: Individuation and Practice: Verlaine, Baudelaire, Mallarmé
Chapter 1: Haiku-Verlaine
i. Discrete Ecstasies
ii. Haiku-individuation
iii. Individuation in Simondon
iv. Verlainian Haiku
Chapter 2: The Verlaine-Environment
i. Verlaine and the Image
ii. Three Verlaine-Readers: Bernadet, Richard and Scott
iii. Verlaine Today
iv. The Verlaine-Environment
Coda: In the Grass…
Chapter 3: Affectivity and Ecology in Baudelaire’s Twilight
i. The Affective Ecology of ‘Le Crépuscule du soir’: Baudelaire and Massumi
ii. Phenomenology and Spiritual Materialism: Poulet and Poe
iii. The Politics of Atmospheres: Chambers and Rancière
Chapter 4: Baudelaire and the Power of Colour
i. The Process-Relational World of Colour
ii. The Colour of the Sun: Baudelaire with Cézanne
iii. Baudelaire Was Never Modern: Art as Ecological Practice
Coda: From Baudelaire to Mallarmé
Chapter 5: Mallarmé and the Individu-Livre
i. The Book-Event: Politics and Beauty
ii. The Book as Practice
iii. The Production of the Individu-Livre
Chapter 6: Mallarmé’s Demonic Media Theory
i. Demonic Modulations
ii. Mallarméan Individuation and Twenty-First-Century Media
iii. Mallarmé and Cybernetics
iv. The Livre and the Anti-Livre
Coda: Is Mallarmé Digital?