Stéphane Mallarmé


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Related to Stéphane Mallarmé: Paul Verlaine

Mallarmé, Stéphane

 

Born Mar. 18, 1842, in Paris; died Sept. 9, 1898, in Valvins, department of Seine-et-Marne. French poet.

The son of a civil servant, Mallarmé became a teacher of English in 1863. After first modeling his verse on C. Baudelaire and the Parnassians, Mallarmé became one of the leading poets of French symbolism in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Despite his democratic attitudes, dissatisfaction with bourgeois reality, search for an ideal (poems of the 1860’s-1870’s, such as “Azure,” “Windows,” “The Wind From the Sea”), and readiness to evaluate the multicolored beauty of the world impressionistically (“The Afternoon of a Faun,” 1876, to which music was written by C. Debussy, 1892), Mallarmé arrived at a tragic conception about the split between poetry and life (“The Swan,” 1885). He came to the idea of an extremely hermetic poetry (Prose for des Esseintes, 1885) that would convey the pure idea by means of symbols alone (the article “Mystery in Poetry,” 1896). Bourgeois critics saw Mallarmé only as a symbolist and aesthete. However, Mallarme was also attracted to the real (Occasional Poems, 1880-98; published, 1920) and to comprehensive classical forms of poetry.

The essence of Mallarmé’s poetry is contained in the narrative poem “A Cast of the Die” (1897), a merciless, self-critical summary of the attempts of symbolist poetry to rise above reality; the poem turns to those abstract and metaphorical forms of realistic reflection of the objective world that in the 20th century came to be characteristic of G. Apollinaire, V. Nezval, P. Neruda, and French poetry of the Resistance and subsequent period.

WORKS

Oeuvres complètes. Edited by H. Mondor and G. Jean-Aubry. Paris, 1956. (With bibliography.)
In Russian translation:
[Verse.] In Voloshin, M. Stikhotvoreniia 1900-1910. Moscow, 1910.
[Verse.] In Briusov, V. Poln. sobr. soch. i perevodov, vol. 21. St. Petersburg, 1913.

REFERENCES

Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
Verlaine, P. Les Poètes maudits. Paris, 1884.
Royère, J. Mallarmé. Paris, 1927.
Mondor, H. Vie de Mallarmé. Paris, 1941.
Roulet, C. Eléments de poétique mallarméenne … . Neuchatel [1947].
Dujardin, E. Mallarmé par l’un des siens. Paris, 1952.
Aragon, L. Journal d’une poésie nationale. Lyon, 1954.
Piselli, F. Mallarmé e l’estetica. [Milan, 1969.]

N. I. BALASHOV