Symons, Arthur

▪ English poet and critic
in full  Arthur William Symons 
born Feb. 28, 1865, Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Eng.
died Jan. 22, 1945, Wittersham, Kent
 poet and critic, the first English champion of the French Symbolist (Symbolist movement) poets.

      Symons's schooling was irregular, but, determined to be a writer, he soon found a place in the London literary journalism of the 1890s. He joined the Rhymers' Club (a group of poets including William Butler Yeats and Ernest Dowson), contributed to The Yellow Book (Yellow Book, The), and became editor of a new magazine, The Savoy (1896), with Aubrey Beardsley as art editor. Symons was well versed in European literature and knew the French writers Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Joris-Karl Huysmans. He expanded his pioneering essay "The Decadent Movement in Literature" (Harper's, November 1893) into a book, The Symbolist Movement in Literature (1899), which influenced both Yeats and T.S. Eliot; in it he characterized Symbolist literature as suggesting or evoking the “unseen reality apprehended by the consciousness.” Symons's criticism constitutes an ambitious development of Walter Pater's model of the “aesthetic critic.”

      Symons's best poetry is strongly fin de siècle in feeling. Days and Nights (1889), Silhouettes (1892), and London Nights (1895) contain admirable impressionist lyrics, sensitive to the complex moods of urban life. "Episode of a Night of May" is an exquisitely ironic fixing of the detail of modern social experience; "Maquillage" is one of the best statements of the Aesthetic cult of artifice; Yeats described "La Mélinite: Moulin Rouge" as “one of the most perfect lyrics of our time.” Symons suffered a serious attack of mental illness in 1908–10. He recovered to produce, over the next 20 years, a stream of travel writing, criticism, and translation, though he never quite regained the intense originality of his early period.

Additional Reading
Karl Beckson, Arthur Symons: A Life (1987); John M. Munro, Arthur Symons (1969); Lawrence W. Markert, Arthur Symons, Critic of the Seven Arts (1988).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Symons, Arthur (William) — (28 feb. 1865, Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Inglaterra–22 ene. 1945, Wittersham, Kent). Poeta y crítico inglés. Fue colaborador de The Yellow Book, una revista de vanguardia, y editor de The Savoy (1896). El movimiento simbolista en la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Symons, Arthur William — (1865 1945)    Born at Milford Haven, Wales, the son of a Methodist minister from Cornwall, he was an introspective and self absorbed child who found solace in literature. In 1884, he edited four volumes of the Shakespeare Quarto Facsimiles for… …   British and Irish poets

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