In September 1908, whilst travelling through Italy with his wife, Arthur Symons experienced a profound mental breakdown which resulted in his being certified insane and committed to Brooke House, an asylum in East London. Doctors initially considered Symons’ condition to be permanent, but he started to make a slow recovery during 1909 and gradually returned to his former literary career, even writing an account of his experiences with mental illness in A Confession (1930).

Symons continued to be active as a poet, translator and literary critic until a few years before his death in 1945. It is, however, noticeable how much of the work Symons published during the twentieth century recycled or reprinted previously published material. The second American edition of The Symbolist Movement in Literature, published by E.P. Dutton in 1919, is no exception. Symons added seven essays to the original volume and re-ordered the collection:

Prosper Mérimée
Gérard de Nerval
Théophile Gautier
Gustave Flaubert
Charles Baudelaire
Edmond and Jules de Goncourt
Villiers de L’Isle-Adam
Léon Cladel
A Note on Zola’s Method
Stéphane Mallarmé
Paul Verlaine
Joris-Karl Huysmans
The Later Huysmans
Arthur Rimbaud 
Jules Laforgue
Maeterlinck as a Mystic

Although the edition was described as ‘revised and enlarged’, Symons made only minor alterations to most of the essays in the previous volume, and while he added some notes for the additional essays at the end of the volume, these consisted solely of lists of publications with no explanatory material (for this reason, they are omitted from this edition).

All of the essays Symons added to this edition of The Symbolist Movement had been published separately in previous collections of his essays. The essays on Balzac, Merimée and Gautier had already been collected in Studies in Prose and Verse (1904), and the essays on Huysmans, the Goncourt brothers, Flaubert, Cladel and Baudelaire had been collected in Figures of Several Centuries (1916). In fact, the essay on Zola had been collected twice, in the previous collections Studies in Two Literatures (1897) and Studies in Prose and Verse.

When adding these essays to The Symbolist Movement, Symons took very few steps to revise or adjust them to the collection as a whole, and several bear clear signs of their previous origins in his journalistic output. The essay on Flaubert, for example, is clearly an introduction to one specific text, Salammbô, and accordingly limited in scope. This leaves some doubt about the integrity as of this ‘revised and enlarged’ account of Symbolism. The inclusion of an essay on Baudelaire as a whole constitutes an implicit recognition of the poet’s genealogical importance to the movement in France, and the inclusion of the Goncourt brothers restores them, in part, to the prominence attributed to them in ‘The Decadent Movement in Literature’. But Symons did not review the rationale for their inclusion explicitly or otherwise attempt to accommodate them within the general account of Symbolism he provides within the collection.

For this reason, the essays added to the 1919 edition are published here in a separate section and reproduced in the order of their first publication in periodical form or elsewhere. From this it will be seen that the essay on Baudelaire was the last to be published, appearing in the Saturday Review during 1907. As such, it reflects also Symons’ own burgeoning interests and activities as a translator during the first decades of the twentieth century: his translation of Baudelaire’s prose poems appeared in 1905, he published a study of Baudelaire in 1920 and, indeed, Symons reused material taken from the essay that appeared in the 1919 edition of The Symbolist Movement as a preface to his own collected translations of Baudelaire’s prose and poems in 1927.

In contrast, the earliest material added in 1919 relates to J.K. Huysmans and first appeared in the Fortnightly Review during 1892. What’s more, the majority of essays added are roughly contemporary with the pieces chosen for inclusion in the first editions of The Symbolist Movement (the majority being written between 1892 and 1902). As such they shed important light on Symons’ general thinking about French literature in the nineteenth century, as well as reflecting shifts in his views afterwards.