In the late 19th century, “symbolism” became a major influence upon the arts. It started with Charles Baudelaire, who was strongly influenced by the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. Symbolists believed that art was all about absolute truth, which could only be expressed indirectly. And so they focused on metaphors and other symbols.
Symbolism affected fiction, poetry, painting, and music; some of the artists and writers embracing it or influenced by it were Richard Wagner, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Edvard Munch, Henrik Ibsen, Frederic Nietzsche, Paul Verlaine, and Oscar Wilde, among many others.
The Symbolists in turn influenced the next generation, including T.S. Eliot, Claude Debussy, William Butler Yeats, Alexander Pushkin, and Boris Pasternak. In Russia, Symbolism found its primary expression in poetry, and especially in the poetry of Alexander Blok (1880-1921).
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Photograph: The Alexander Apartment Blok Museum in St. Petersburg.