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Title:From Orientalism to Japonisme: Hugo, Baudelaire and Mallarme
Author(s):Williamson, Karyn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Talbot, Emile J.
Department / Program:Literature, Romance
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Romance
Religion, Philosophy of
Art History
Abstract:In nineteenth-century France, both Orientalism and Japonisme were heralded as ways to rejuvenate art and literature. Did these movements actually "modernize" the arts? This thesis visualizes the esthetics of the Orientalist poetry of Hugo, Baudelaire and Mallarme through a parallel study of nineteenth-century Orientalist painting. The results of these Orientalist analyses are compared to the esthetic effects of the movement of Japonisme found in painting and in Mallarme's poetry.
Hugo, in Les Orientales, communicates in a linear, rational and metonymic style of representation which merely perpetuates Western literary convention. This resembles the painting of the French neo-classicists and academic realists such as Gerome. These artists, like Hugo, paint a "realistic" portrait of "Oriental" reality which blatantly coincides with the poet's desire to demonstrate his artistic virility.
Baudelaire's poetry moves towards the Impressionistic ideal while still remaining (like Delacroix) in the French Romantic tradition. His images transcend the delineated linear rational reality. His personal use and distortion of metaphor disrupts the rational interpretative process of the reader which anticipates twentieth century Western art and literature.
Mallarme, like many of his contemporaries, realized the relativity of Western ideals of beauty. An analysis of certain poems reveal his use of Orientalism and Japonisme which demonstrates the nineteenth century search for fresh inspiration. However, unlike earlier poets and painters, Mallarme succeeds in breaking out of tradition--much like those artists incorporating Japanese artistic techniques into their art.
Mallarme relies on the universal essence of language that strips all referential connotations in order to leave the reader with nothing but its enigmatic essence. An analysis of Mallarme' s later poetry reveals a resemblance to the esthetics of Zen art wherein lies Mallarme's literary japonsime, and wherein perhaps lies another way to interpret the change in consciousness in many artists, readers, spectators and/or scientists of the time whose perception of the world was changing and whose poetic and artistic representations help us to visualize the transformation of their inner reality and its relationship to the outer world.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Williamson, Karyn
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512596
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512596

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