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Stefan George and French Symbolism

Yang Hongqin

German poet Stefan George's contact with French Symbolists in Paris in 1889-1892 has a formative impact on his poetry and can’t be underestimated. The French Symbolism's pursuit of art for art's sake, worship of the poetry and the gatherings of like-minded writers and artists around Stéphane Mallarmé, are in harmony with his innermost desire. Stefan George believed in the ancient Greek and Roman tradition of the poet as a prophet and educator. In absorbing French Symbolist poetics, he adheres to this tradition and highlights his different pursuit. Mallarmé is the high priest of the beautiful, and while George is also a prophet in the pursuit of the beautiful, for him the poet should first be a priest of the beautiful and this is fundamental for his mission as a prophet.