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Imagined Cosmopolis

Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870s–1920s


Edited By Charlotte Ashby, Grace Brockington, Daniel Laqua and Sarah Victoria Turner

The period from the 1870s to the 1920s was marked by an interplay between nationalisms and internationalisms, culminating in the First World War, on the one hand, and the creation of the League of Nations, on the other. The arts were central to this debate, contributing both to the creation of national traditions and to the emergence of ideas, objects and networks that forged connections between nations or that enabled internationalists to imagine a different world order altogether. The essays presented here explore the ways in which the arts operated internationally during this crucial period of nation-making, and how they helped to challenge national conceptions of citizenship, society, homeland and native tongue. The collection arises from the AHRC-funded research network Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870–1920 (ICE; 2009–2014) and its enquiry into the histories of cultural internationalism and their historiographical implications.

This collection has been edited by members of the ICE network convened by Grace Brockington and Sarah Victoria Turner.

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9. Art as Cosmopoetics: Ferdinand Hodler, Mallarmé and La Revue de Gèneve (Juliet Simpson)


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9  Art as Cosmopoetics: Ferdinand Hodler, Mallarmé and La Revue de Gèneve

In 1882, the French writer and cosmopolite Paul Bourget suggestively defined ‘cosmopolitanism’ as a new psychological mood, a state of multiple being, ‘fluid and composite’, as of travel, encounter or community.1 To experience the ‘cosmopolitan’ in art, literature and culture was, for Bourget, to adopt a ‘double’ view in which foreignness of country, culture and voice becomes as much about enlarging boundaries of self and creation, as of communities and nations. This article takes Bourget’s cosmopolitan condition – as defined by its idea of psychological and cultural fluidity and indeterminacy – as a starting point for exploring a neglected Franco-Swiss cosmopolitan set of connections and cultural projections. My focus is Ferdinand Hodler’s cosmopolitanism in art and as promoted in the avant-garde review as a site for extending interrelations of art, writing and new transcultural imaginaries.

Two aspects are of particular interest here. First is Hodler’s close yet neglected involvement between 1886 and 1887 with the poet Louis Duchosal and his Geneva-based Revue de Gèneve, which acted as a vehicle for emerging transnational artistic exchanges. Such encounters were to communicate Stéphane Mallarmé’s aesthetics to new Swiss artistic contexts and stimulate their further transformations. Second is the pivotal importance of Duchosal’s group’s networks and cultural interconnections in shaping related transformations in Hodler’s artistic practices within a Swiss-inflected mystical naturalist aesthetics and politics, yet with resonances beyond...

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