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Daniel R. Madar[The book's] many points of interest make it a welcome addition to writing on Mallarmé and his followers.
—Times Literary Supplement
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Cándida Smith investigates the intellectual context in which symbolists came to view artistic practice as a form of knowledge. He relates their work to psychology, especially the ideas of William James, and to language and the emergence of semantics. Through the lens of symbolism, he focuses on a variety of subjects: sexual liberation and the erotic, anarchism, utopianism, labor, and women's creative role. Paradoxically, the symbolists' reconfiguration of elite culture fit effectively into the modern commercial media. After Mallarmé was rescued from obscurity, symbolism became a valuable commodity, exported by France to America and elsewhere in the market-driven turn-of-the-century world. Mallarmé's Children traces not only how poets regarded their poetry and artists their art but also how the public learned to think in new ways about cultural work and to behave differently as a result.