The Poetry of Hugo von Hofmannsthal and French Symbolism

Hardcover | June 1, 2000

byRobert Vilain

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Hugo von Hofmannsthal became famous at the age of sixteen for poetry and lyrical drama of almost uncanny facility and beauty. Yet he ceased to write lyric poetry almost completely in the early 1900s and his fictional farewell to poetry, the so-called 'Chandos Letter', is a paradigm for theuncertainty and instability of Modernism. The verse of the 1890s, the 'lyrical decade', is generally felt to have been enhanced by his interest in the French Symbolists and the Symbolist-inspired tutelage of Stefan George. However, with analyses of verse and prose poetry from the 1890s, this bookargues that Symbolism was a fundamentally inhibiting influence, ultimately responsible for the crisis in Hofmannsthal's poetic writing. 'Das Gesprach uber Gedichte', written soon after 'Ein Brief', in 1903, makes it clear how the crisis was a personal one and does not imply the general impossibilityof future writing, as is often suggested. As a theory of poetry, it acknowledges the importance of French Symbolism but suggests how it was ultimately a dummy aesthetic that had previously overlaid and stifled Hofmannsthal's own Romantic leanings.

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Hugo von Hofmannsthal became famous at the age of sixteen for poetry and lyrical drama of almost uncanny facility and beauty. Yet he ceased to write lyric poetry almost completely in the early 1900s and his fictional farewell to poetry, the so-called 'Chandos Letter', is a paradigm for theuncertainty and instability of Modernism. The v...

Robert Vilain is at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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Format:HardcoverPublished:June 1, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198160038

ISBN - 13:9780198160038

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Table of Contents

IntroductionMapping the terrain: Symbolism in Vienna in the early 1890sForm and identity: Hofmannsthal and the Symbolist aesthetic'Symbolismus: Meine Definitionen': early poems and the presence of Stefan GeorgeThe consequences of Symbolism: hesitations, problems and a solutionTaking stock: 'Das Gesprach uber Gedichte'Postscript and conclusion: Hofmannsthal and RimbaudNotesTranslationsBiographical NotesBibliographyIndex