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Félix Fénéon and the Neo-Impressionists

IMPRESSIONIST painting, emerging simultaneously with literary naturalism, had been defended by Zola and Duranty. The "divisionists," from the moment they appeared, found supporters in the symbolist movement. The year 1886, so important in the history of painting, was equally decisive for the development of symbolist literature. It was in this year that ideas crystallized and groups formed. The first numbers of La Vogue, Le Symboliste and La Décadence appeared in 1886. That year Moréas published a manifesto in favor of symbolism, and Mallarmé, Verlaine, Jules Laforgue, Paul Adam, Gustave Kahn and Félix Fénéon began systematically to propound and propagate the new literary principles. However, these authors, while united in their literary convictions, did not all take the same view of painting. Mallarmé, friend of Manet, was attached to the generation of impressionists, whose marvels Jules Laforgue -- he was to die that very year -- had just discovered. Some years later, Mallarmé and Moréas made a great favorite of Gauguin, who, the one symbolist painter to emerge from the impressionists, did their portraits. Other members of the group supported Puvis de Chavannes or Gustave Moreau, attracted by the former's majestic simplicity or the latter's flowery hieraticism.55 But Henri de Régnier, Gustave Kahn, Paul Adam and Félix Fénéon were attached to Seurat and his friends. As Gustave Kahn explains:

We not only felt that we were leading a struggle for new ideas; we were attracted by something that seemed to parallel our own efforts: the kind of equilibrium, the search for an absolute departure which characterized the art of Seurat. We were sensitive to the mathematical element in this art. Perhaps the fire of youth had stirred up in us a number of half-certitudes which seemed strengthened by the fact that his experiments in line and color were in many respects exactly analogous to our theories of verse and phrase. The theory of discontinuity might very well have some relation to the theory of optical mixture. Painters and poets were mutually captivated by the possibility that this was the case.56

Of the symbolist authors associated with Seurat and his friends, Félix néon was the one who became most intimate with the painter. And what Zola

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