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