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6 - France: the continuing debate over Classicism

from II - National developments in literary criticism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2013

M. A. R. Habib
Affiliation:
Rutgers University, New Jersey
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Summary

Modernity took many of the traits of Classicism. There were numerous attributes that suggested traditional Classicism: restraint, simplicity, gravity, order, unity, reason, clarity, harmony, polish and precision. Mid-century critics thought Romanticism was little more than egotistic sentimentalism, while Classicism was virtually synonymous with formalism and precision. Realism raised a new set of demands, insisting on objective description of reality and scientific truth. The Classicism of Brunetière late in the nineteenth century had to do with language more than with particular models. He sought the linguistic core, devoid of idiosyncratic dialects, idioms, foreign words, provincialisms and pedantic neologisms. Jean Moréas, an expatriate Greek, was deeply involved with the Symbolists and their self-proclaimed leader. Isolated efforts that imitated the great works of Antiquity or of seventeenth-century France had little real effect in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries until they were integrated into the predominant aesthetic movements of the period.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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