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By the middle of the 19th century, theatre began to reflect more and more a realistic tendency, associated with Naturalism. These tendencies can be seen in the theatrical melodramas of the period and, in an even more lurid and gruesome light, in the Grand Guignol at the end of the century. In addition to melodramas, popular and bourgeois theatre in the mid-century turned to realism in the "well-made" bourgeois farces and the moral dramas. Also popular were the operettas, farces and comedies of Ludovi Halevy, Henri Meilhac, and, at the turn of the century, Georges Feydeau.
The poetry of Baudelaire and much of the literature in the latter half of the century (or "fin de siècle") were often characterized as “decadent" for their lurid content or moral vision, but with the publication of Jean Moreas's "Symbolist Manifesto" in 1886, it was the term symbolism which was most often applied to the new literary environment.