T.S. Eliot and Paul Verlaine

The late nineteenth century Symbolist movement in literature was first identified as the primary origin of twentieth century Modernism by Edmund Wilson, in his 1931 work Axel's Castle: A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930. Wilson's study ranges widely enough to cover the Modernist prose of Proust and Joyce in addition to the experimental prose-poetry of Gertrude Stein, but he makes a particularly strong case for the origins of Modernist poetry in the Symbolists. Wilson, in defining Symbolist tendencies in poetry, is not uncritical in his assessment:

The Symbolists themselves, full of the idea of producing with poetry effects like those of music, tended to think of these images as possessing an abstract value like musical notes and chords. But the words of our speech are not musical notation, and what the symbols of Sym-bolism really were, were metaphors detached from their subjects for...
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