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Parnassianism (or Parnassism) was a French literary style which began during the positivist period of the 19th century. The style was influenced by the author Théophile Gautier as well as by the philosophical ideas of Arthur Schopenhauer.


Parnassianism was a literary style characteristic of certain French poetry during the positivist period of the 19th century, occurring after romanticism and prior to symbolism. The name is derived from the original Parnassian poets' journal, Le Parnasse contemporain, itself named after Mount Parnassus, home of the Muses of Greek mythology. The anthology was first issued in 1866, then again in 1869 and 1876, including poems by Charles Leconte de Lisle, Théodore de Banville, Sully Prudhomme, Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, François Coppée and José María de Heredia.

The Parnassians were influenced by Théophile Gautier and his doctrine of "art for art's sake". As a reaction to the less disciplined types of romantic poetry, and what they considered the excessive sentimentality and undue social and political activism of Romantic works, the Parnassians strove for exact and faultless workmanship, selecting exotic and classical subjects which they treated with rigidity of form and emotional detachment. Elements of this detachment were derived from the philosophical work of Arthur Schopenhauer.

Despite its French origins, Parnassianism was not restricted to French authors. Perhaps the most idiosyncratic of Parnassians, Olavo Bilac (Alberto de Oliveira's disciple) was an author from Brazil who managed carefully to craft verses and metre while maintaining a strong emotionalism in them. Polish Parnassians included Antoni Lange, Felicjan Faleński, Cyprian Kamil Norwid and Leopold Staff. The most important Romanian poet with Paranassian influences was Alexandru Macedonski.

Gerard Manley Hopkins used the term Parnassian to describe competent but uninspired poetry. He identified this trend particularly with the work of Alfred Tennyson, citing the poem "Enoch Arden" as an example[citation needed].[1]


  1. Hopkins, Gerard Manley (2002). The Major Works. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 185–186. ISBN 978-0-19-953885-0. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
In France
  • Maurice Souriau, Histoire du Parnasse, ed. Spes, 1929
  • Louis-Xavier de Ricard, Petits mémoires d'un Parnassien
  • Adolphe Racot, Les Parnassiens, introduction and commentaries by M. Pakenham, presented by Louis Forestier, Aux Lettres modernes: collection avant-siècle, 1967.
  • Yann Mortelette, Histoire du Parnasse, Paris : Fayard, 2005, 400 p.
  • Le Parnasse. Mémoire de la critique, ed. Yann Mortelette, Paris : PUPS, 2006, 444 p.
  • André Thérive, Le Parnasse, ed. PAUL-DUVAL, 1929.
  • Luc Decaunes, La Poésie parnassienne Anthologie, Seghers, 1977.
In Brazil
Essays and criticisms
  • AZEVEDO, Sanzio de. Parnasianismo na poesia brasileira. Fortaleza: Ceará University, 2000.
  • BOSI, Alfredo. A intuição da passagem em um soneto de Raimundo Correia, in --- (org). Leitura de Poesia. São Paulo: Ática, 2003.
  • CANDIDO, Antonio. No coração do silêncio. in: ---. Na sala de aula. São Paulo: Ática, 1985.
  • CAVALCANTI, Camillo. Fundamentos modernos das Poesias de Alberto de Oliveira, doctoral thesis at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 2008.
  • FISCHER, Luis Augusto. Parnasianismo brasileiro. Porto Alegre: Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, 2003.
  • MAGALHÃES Jr., Raymundo. Olavo Bilac. Rio de Janeiro: Americana, 1974.
  • MARTINO, Pierre. Parnasse et symbolisme. Armand Colin, 1967. (Parnaso y symbolismo, Ed. Ateneo)