Books: The Neo-Realists

In Paris, a city old and rich in passing fancies, all it takes to plan a literary revolt is three disappointed writers and a sidewalk cafe. Most such uprisings are dissipated after the second apéritif, leaving nothing behind but the smile on the face of the waiter. Yet literary groups—if they persist long enough to draw serious attention—are occasionally to be reckoned with. Between about 1880 and 1895, for instance, the Symbolists, led by Mallarmé, reshaped the tone and temper of poetry, both English and French. In more recent times the Existentialists, though...

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