Section I of this edition reprints the text of the second edition of The Symbolist Movement in Literature, published by Constable in 1908. This is substantially the same as the text of the first edition published by Leonard Smithers in 1899, except that it incorporates some minor corrections and one major change: Symons added considerable material to his essay on Huysmans and changed its title from ‘Huysmans as a Symbolist’ to ‘The Later Huysmans’ to reflect, as his endnote records, the emphasis upon that particular phase of Huysmans’ career.

The 1908 text has been chosen as a text corrected by Symons and because it formed the basis of the first American edition of The Symbolist Movement published by E.P. Dutton in the same year; hence the historical value of that edition as the book that T.S. Eliot encountered in the library of the Harvard Union in 1908.

I have supplied translations to French phrases and texts where the sense may not be obvious from the context. Prose translations of poems are my own unless otherwise noted.

Section II supplies the essays that Symons added to The Symbolist Movement in Literature for the 1919 edition. Original publication information is provided in the notes at the back of the book.

Appendix 1 reproduces the text of Symons’ essay ‘The Decadent Movement in Literature’ as it first appeared in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine during 1893.

Appendix 2 supplies the translations from Mallarmé and Verlaine that Symons added to the 1919 edition.

The Notes section includes Symons’ original endnotes, which contain reference to contemporary translations of his chosen writers, followed by my own annotations providing detail about sources quoted by Symons and unfamiliar points of reference.

The glossary provides information about writers cited by Symons and expands on some key terms relevant to the essays in this book.

The bibliography includes details of English translations of the Symbolist writers as well as works on Symons and general suggestions for further reading.