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Selected Poetry and Prose of Stéphane Mallarmé presents what can be considered the essential work of the renowned “father of the Symbolists.” Mallarmé’s major elegies, sonnets, and other verse, including excerpts from the dialogue “Hériodiade,” are all assembled here with the French and English texts en face. Also included (not bilingually) are the visual poem “Dice Thrown Selected Poetry and Prose of Stéphane Mallarmé presents what can be considered the essential work of the renowned “father of the Symbolists.” Mallarmé’s major elegies, sonnets, and other verse, including excerpts from the dialogue “Hériodiade,” are all assembled here with the French and English texts en face. Also included (not bilingually) are the visual poem “Dice Thrown Never Will Annul Chance” and the drama “Igitur,” as well as letters, essays, and reviews. Although his primary concern was with poetry, the aesthetics of Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-98) has touched all the arts. During the last twenty years of his life, his Paris apartment was a major literary gathering place. Every Tuesday evening, standing beneath the portrait of himself by his friend Edouard Manet, the poet addressed reverent gatherings which included at various times Paul Valery and André Gide, among many others. The American painter James Whistler was influenced by these “Mardis,” and one of the best-known poems in the present collection, “The Afternoon of a Faun,” inspired Claude Debussy’s famous musical composition. In translation, the subtle and varied shades of Mallarmé’s oeuvre may best be rendered by diverse hands. Editor Mary Ann Caws, the author of books on René Char, Robert Desnos, and various aspects of modern French writing, has brought together the work of fourteen translators, spanning a century, from the Symbolists and the Bloomsbury group (George Moore and Roger Fry) to Cid Corman, Brian Coffey, and other contemporary poets and writers.


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Selected Poetry and Prose of Stéphane Mallarmé presents what can be considered the essential work of the renowned “father of the Symbolists.” Mallarmé’s major elegies, sonnets, and other verse, including excerpts from the dialogue “Hériodiade,” are all assembled here with the French and English texts en face. Also included (not bilingually) are the visual poem “Dice Thrown Selected Poetry and Prose of Stéphane Mallarmé presents what can be considered the essential work of the renowned “father of the Symbolists.” Mallarmé’s major elegies, sonnets, and other verse, including excerpts from the dialogue “Hériodiade,” are all assembled here with the French and English texts en face. Also included (not bilingually) are the visual poem “Dice Thrown Never Will Annul Chance” and the drama “Igitur,” as well as letters, essays, and reviews. Although his primary concern was with poetry, the aesthetics of Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-98) has touched all the arts. During the last twenty years of his life, his Paris apartment was a major literary gathering place. Every Tuesday evening, standing beneath the portrait of himself by his friend Edouard Manet, the poet addressed reverent gatherings which included at various times Paul Valery and André Gide, among many others. The American painter James Whistler was influenced by these “Mardis,” and one of the best-known poems in the present collection, “The Afternoon of a Faun,” inspired Claude Debussy’s famous musical composition. In translation, the subtle and varied shades of Mallarmé’s oeuvre may best be rendered by diverse hands. Editor Mary Ann Caws, the author of books on René Char, Robert Desnos, and various aspects of modern French writing, has brought together the work of fourteen translators, spanning a century, from the Symbolists and the Bloomsbury group (George Moore and Roger Fry) to Cid Corman, Brian Coffey, and other contemporary poets and writers.

30 review for Selected Poetry and Prose

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I have such an... interesting time reading Mallarme's poetry, when I do. I started on it with the large, awkward, almost oblong edition of his works when I was but a lad and some of the poems therein hit me with the shock of recognition and others just sort of luminously fell by the wayside. I bought a different edition, this one, and dip into it once in awhile as one does with funky, strange old books which one doesn't remember owning or reading very much anymore. The painting on the cover is qu I have such an... interesting time reading Mallarme's poetry, when I do. I started on it with the large, awkward, almost oblong edition of his works when I was but a lad and some of the poems therein hit me with the shock of recognition and others just sort of luminously fell by the wayside. I bought a different edition, this one, and dip into it once in awhile as one does with funky, strange old books which one doesn't remember owning or reading very much anymore. The painting on the cover is quite something. C'est le homme: looking pensive, affable, polite, heavy-lidded, somewhat withdrawn, speculating on the near distance; our author was instigator and apparently spokesman for the mardis at his apartment, a little salon where some of the nearest and dearest would come together to discuss poetry, language, and such. I still don't quote know what to make of his oblique and exquisitely imagistic poetics but I as a reader do not demand sense from my poets, easy or otherwise, though I reserve the right to check for what you might call 'sensibility'- obscurity is rich, it's the loam from which so much sprouts. But you have to seduce me, you gotta make me suspend my hard-headed, Anglo-American empiricism (I don't have Puritan blood for nothing) and delve into the decadent world of language for language's sake and image for image's sake and the point/counterpoint dialectic of associations played against each other... I spent an amusing if puzzling T ride (subway, if you're not from Boston) musing over this poem in particular: Lace passes into nothingness, with the ultimate Gamble in doubt, in blasphemy revealing just eternal absence of any bed. This concordant enmity of a white garland and the same, in flight against the pallid glass, hovers and does not enshroud. But where, limned gold, the dreamer dwells, there sleeps a mournful mandola, its deep lacuna source of song. Of a kind that toward some window, Formed by that belly or none at all, Filial, one might have been born. Very interesting stuff...a mandola, by the way, is a mini-mandolin. You see what I mean? Abstract but not quite abstruse. The imagery sort of juxtaposes itself, playing off of the difference in meanings and the similarities simultaneously. One image could stand for the meaning of another- the lace dissolving like the attempt at some kind of tangible structure or resting point, poised over the abyss of confusion and ontological ambiguity, reminding the speaker how little there is (or can be) in the face of the perpetual grievance. The last two stanzas play on that idea, to me at least. The sound that needs an empty place to resonate, "hovers but does not enshroud" and offering the speaker (or any curious intelligence) a space of belonging, of presence. Now granted the poem is a translation and such a thing is very tricky by nature. The question is, am I totally off the mark or am I affixing meaning in a vulgar way over a poem which resists this kind of categorization by the nature of its very aesthetic choices? I'd like to add that there is a moment in the excellent, brilliantly realized and accomplished movie "Max" where John Cusak (groan) plays an art dealer in late 30's Germany who is trying to explain the unique qualities of an Abstract Expressionist painting to a prospective buyer and asks him, 'do you see how he reveals himself here'? The gesture is kind of ridiculous in a way; another strategy for an art dealer with an eye for the bottom line to get some eyebrows lifted and some hands reaching for the wallet. BUT- and this is a bit crucial, I'm afraid- it might be in dead earnest. After all, I'm using the painting analogy intentionally...what else would a painter have to use as a means towards self-expression but line quality, colour, space, composition, perspective, etc? Could a well-trained eye 'see' the characteristics of a painter's personality if he knew well enough to look as it were between the lines? I think so, I really do. It's an open question, certainly, but there is no doubt among dedicated students of art of all kinds that there is a language occurring at a level that is definitively more than meets the eye. So if the analogy holds, it might be fair to say that Mallarme's poem is interpret able in the way that, say, a cloud is: it's more about the shifts and translucence and the delicate ripple of pattern as it changes than about abrupt disclosure or statement. One might be required to let the poem play itself across the mind, rather than to hammer it into submission with interrogation. Then there's this, which is unqualifiably great, at least to me: excerpt from CRISIS IN POETRY: ...each soul is a melody which must be picked up again, and the flute or viola of everyone exists for that. Late in coming, it seems to me, is the true condition or the possibility not just of expressing oneself but of modulating oneself as one chooses. Languages are imperfect in that although there are many, the supreme one is lacking: thinking is to write without accessories, or whispering, but since the immortal word is still tacit, the diversity of tongues on the earth keeps everyone from uttering the word which would be otherwise in one unique rendering, truth itself in its substance...Only, we must realize, poetry would not exist ; philosophically, verse makes up for what languages lack, completely superior as it is. It's worth noting, on this issue, that Mallarme is respected for the simple fact that his playing with language and the mixing up of word assortments on the page anticipates a lot of the language poetry to come in the next hundred years or so. Exalting the word, liberating it from the corset of context or narrativity, has got to start here. Poetry as not only an exalted speech but as a form of counter-speech. Alternate discourse held to being within its own bubble. Marginalia made central, constantly veering off into the limit of comprehension on purpose, maybe as a way of challenging the reader's presuppositions and internalized means of interpretation. The self as modulation as interpretation is necessarily modulated- what else can one know but what one brings to the table? I'm mighty partial to the idea that one can only understand what one is ready to understand, that one must have a mind of winter to comprehend summer. Contrast is a thing of beauty. Sea Breeze How sad the flesh! and there's no more to read. Escape, far off! I feel that somewhere birds Are drunk to be amid strange spray and skies! Nothing, not those old gardens eyes reflect Can now restrain this heart steeped in the sea Oh nights! nor the lone brightness of my lamp on the blank paper which its whiteness shields nor the young wife, her baby at her breast. I shall depart! Steamer with swaying masts, Raise anchor for exotic wilderness! Tedium, desolated by cruel hope, has faith still in great fluttering farewells! and, it may be, the masts, inviting storms are of the sort that wind inclines to wrecks lost, with no mast, no mast, or verdant isle... but listen, oh my heart, the sailors sing! Also, I can't neglect the fact that Mallarme got just about the greatest blurb of all time: Mallarme's poetry is like the sea. Its surface, changeless yet evanescent, catches the eye. On bright days we apprehend chiefly the quicksilver flashes of luminous intelligence. In glooom we sense the ubiquitous threat of nothingness, dissolusion and death. Always we are aware of vast depths beneath the creases and folds, of immense power masquerading as froth. - Washington Post Book World (Johnathan Yardley???)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Mallarme’s poetry, I believe, unfortunately does not translate its true excellence into English. Focused on aesthetics, Mallarme included in his poetic formulations wonderful symbolism, which does translate, as well as aesthetic form that focused on spacing, and the image of the poem as a whole. Unfortunately, it is difficult to translate both. This volume does make an admirable attempt, however, and it is worth the investment in time to read the text. A great example, I think, of Mallarme’s wor Mallarme’s poetry, I believe, unfortunately does not translate its true excellence into English. Focused on aesthetics, Mallarme included in his poetic formulations wonderful symbolism, which does translate, as well as aesthetic form that focused on spacing, and the image of the poem as a whole. Unfortunately, it is difficult to translate both. This volume does make an admirable attempt, however, and it is worth the investment in time to read the text. A great example, I think, of Mallarme’s work can be found in the last verse from “The Azure” is incredibly descriptive, overwhelming, haunting, and hyperbolic: It travels ancient through the fog, and penetrates Like an unerring blade your native agony; Where flee in my revolt so useless and depraved? For I am haunted! The Sky! The Sky! The Sky! The Sky! Ranging widely over much subject matter, I found the prose contained in this volume just as interesting as the poetry. A quote from “Crisis In Poetry” is a fantastic representation of Mallarme’s thinking. “Each soul is a melody which must be picked up again, and the flute or the viola of everyone exists for that.” (75) Overall, Mallarme was an influential artist for his aesthetic quality and symbolic representations, and as such, deserves to be studied.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex Obrigewitsch

    A beautiful soul held in and held forth by the tomb of the word. A true genius, the vehicle for the unending saying that is the word's expression. Mallarme is an exemplary figure of Man as the creature ecriture.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Noah

    The concrete stuff's good, at least.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Raheelah

    No wonder the one and only Che read you, Mallarmé. Poignant.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    einige hervorragende und ausgesprochen schöne gedichte finden sich darin, wie beispielsweise die "arbeiterlieder" oder auch die grabmals-dichtung; auch das ein oder andere gedicht in prosa ist schön zu lesen.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    I've no idea if this is the best choice but English and French translations are printed enface. I'm interested especially due to Joseph Cornell's appreciation of his work.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris Schaeffer

    That ghoulish pupil of Nostradamus. I had some fun reading this on a futon, for no reason. It's not like my bed wasn't available.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tony Iantosca

    It's about how she became a McDonald's

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leo Dunsker

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Costello

  12. 4 out of 5

    Francisco Diniz

  13. 4 out of 5

    Néstor

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jay Barnica

  15. 5 out of 5

    Simon

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  17. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Duggan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Namrirru

  20. 4 out of 5

    S

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  24. 4 out of 5

    jen ♦

  25. 5 out of 5

    Myguel de Mello

  26. 4 out of 5

    John

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dusie Press

  30. 4 out of 5

    Soohyun

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