This book is the first detailed history of the Russian Symbolist movement, from its initial hostile reception as a symptom of European decadence to its absorption into the mainstream of Russian literature, and eventual disintegration. It focuses on the two generations of writers whose work served as the seedbed of Existentialism in thought and of Modernism in prose and the performing arts, and reassesses their achievements in the light of modern research. Because the Symbolists philosophy aspired to art, their poetry to music, painting to poetry and theatre to liturgy, this study pays proper attention to developments in art, theatre, thought and religion. It also considers the historical background of revolutionary hope and foreboding, and the patronage of the fading court and the rising capitalist class. At the centre of the study are the Symbolists' literary works. Prose is quoted in English translation and poetry given in the original Russian with prose translations. There is a valuable bibliography of primary sources and an extensive chronological appendix. This book will fill a long-felt gap, and will be invaluable to students and teachers of Russian and comparative literature, symbolism, modernism, and pre-revolutionary Russian culture.