Symbolism was a movement in poetry and other arts that started in France, Russia, and Belgium in the late 1800s.
In literature, the style began with Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal, which came out in 1857. Edgar Allan Poe's works, which Baudelaire liked a lot and translated into French, had a significant impact on him and were the source of many tropes and images still used today. In the 1860s and 1870s, Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine came up with style. In the 1880s, several manifestos were written about the aesthetic, which attracted a whole generation of writers. The critic Jean Moréas was the first to use the word "symbolist." He did this to separate the Symbolists from the related Decadents of literature and art.
Symbolism in art has nothing to do with the writing style but is related to the gothic part of Romanticism and Impressionism.
The word "symbolism" comes from the word "symbol," which comes from the Latin words "symbolism," which means "a sign of faith," and "symbols," which means "a sign of recognition." These words come from the classical Greek "v symbolon," which was an object that was cut in half and used as a sign of recognition when the two pieces could be put back together. In ancient Greece, the symbolon was a piece of pottery written on and then broken into two parts. These two pieces were given to the ambassadors of two city-states that had made a deal to work together.
Symbolism was mainly a reaction against naturalism and realism, which were anti-idealistic styles that tried to show reality and make the humble and ordinary seem more important than the ideal. Symbolism was a reaction that favored spirituality, dreams, and imagination. Some writers, like Joris-Karl Huysmans, started as naturalists before becoming symbolists. For Huysmans, this change showed his growing interest in religion and spirituality. Some of the things that the Decadents were known for were their interest in sexuality and taboo topics. However, this naturalist interest was mixed with Byronic romanticism and the world-weariness of the turn of the century.
The relationship between Symbolist poets and Parnassianism, a French literary style that came before it, is more complicated. Even though it was influenced by hermeticism and allowed for a more free verse while rejecting Parnassianism's clarity and objectivity, it kept Parnassianism's love of wordplay and attention to how verse sounds. The Symbolists still liked Théophile Gautier's motto, "art for art's sake," and they kept and changed the mood of ironic detachment from Parnassianism. Many early works by Symbolist poets, like Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine, were published in Le Parnasse Contemporain. These collections of poetry are what gave the movement its name, Parnassianism. But Arthur Rimbaud made fun of famous Parnassians in public and published scatological parodies of some of their most celebrated writers, including Francois Coppée, in the album. These parodies were misattributed to Coppée himself.
Joséphin Péladan, an art, and literary critic and occultist were one of Symbolism's most interesting supporters in Paris. He started the Salon de la Rose + Croix, which was a place where people could talk about art. During the 1890s, the Salon put on six shows of avant-garde art, writing, and music to give artists who used spiritualism, mysticism, and idealism in their work a place to show their work. The Salon brought together several Symbolists.