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New in H-France
A Review of A Forest of Symbols

In a recent issue of H-France, Allison Morehead reviews A Forest of Symbols: Art, Science, and Truth in the Long Nineteenth Century by Andrei Pop. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full review. An excerpt appears below:

“Andrei Pop, in his new book, A Forest of Symbols: Art, Science, and Truth in the Long Nineteenth Century, takes the challenges and rewards of communicating very seriously, seriously enough to take a number of risks, the majority of which pay off in this provocative study. Pop’s ambitious argument, in brief, is that symbolism, broadly defined as meaning-making activity, responds to a crisis in both art and science arising from an intensifying self-consciousness about representing subjectivity. Artists, poets, philosophers, and scientists of the long nineteenth century proposed various solutions to the problem, some of which have been called symbolist, as in the symbolist art and poetry of the 1880s and 1890s, while others, according to Pop, also deserve the moniker. Taking meaning and meaning-making seriously, gathering resources to it, and facing squarely the complex problem of communicating inner thoughts are both Pop’s subject matter and his method. Moreover, he frames the project in terms of a moral imperative to address the contemporary crisis in the humanities. ‘Without working out the logical bases of our shared aesthetic, scientific, moral, and political projects,’ he writes in the first chapter, ‘I do not see how we will overcome the tribalism overtaking twenty-first century life.‘”