Collected Poems

Collected Poems

by Stephane Mallarme
     
 

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Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) is one of the giants of nineteenth-century French poetry. Leader of the Symbolist movement, he exerted a powerful influence on modern literature and thought, which can be traced in the works of Paul Valéry, W.B. Yeats, and Jacques Derrida. From his early twenties until the time of his death, Mallarmé produced

Overview

Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) is one of the giants of nineteenth-century French poetry. Leader of the Symbolist movement, he exerted a powerful influence on modern literature and thought, which can be traced in the works of Paul Valéry, W.B. Yeats, and Jacques Derrida. From his early twenties until the time of his death, Mallarmé produced poems of astonishing originality and beauty, many of which have become classics. In the Collected Poems, Henry Weinfield brings the oeuvre of this European master to life for an English-speaking audience, essentially for the first time. All the poems that the author chose to retain are here, superbly rered by Weinfield in a translation that comes remarkably close to Mallarmé's own voice. Weinfield conveys not simply the meaning but the spirit and music of the French originals, which appear en face. Whether writing in verse or prose, or inventing an altogether new genre—as he did in the amazing "Coup de Dés"—Mallarmé was a poet of both supreme artistry and great difficulty. To illuminate Mallarmé's poetry for twentieth-century readers, Weinfield provides an extensive commentary that is itself an important work of criticism. He sets each poem in the context of the work as a whole and defines the poems' major symbols. Also included are an introduction and a bibliography. Publication of this collection is a major literary event in the English-speaking world: here at last is the work of a major figure, masterfully translated.

Author Biography: Henry Weinfield, Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame, is author of three collections of poetry and ThePoet without a Name: Gray's Elegy and the Problem of History (1991).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
To be translated, the work of Mallarm must be transmuted, leading to a poetry just as weirdly and irreducibly English as his is in French. But alchemical operations are conducted according to rules, and poet Weinfield (Sonnets Elegiac and Satirical) has chosen as his focus Mallarm's elaboration of rhyme and meter. Since poetic forms are as indigenous to their languages as the senses and sounds of words themselves (and since English has many fewer rhyme-words than French), this is a brave undertaking. Mallarm's work subverts the standardized, highly rhetorical conventions of traditional French verse; he uses the confines of poetic form to set free and play with private images and syntactical or semantic ambiguities. English poetry is much less formal-many of the conventions it once observed have fallen into abeyance during the last century. By now, there are relatively few poets with a sufficient command of form to use it against the grain in the manner of Mallarm. Unfortunately, Weinfield is not among them: his rhymes are flat and obtrusive, he lacks prosodic tact, and his choice of diction, which appears propelled more by the dictionary than by the drift of the poems, aggravates matters. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Mallarm was a French Symbolist poet of the 19th century who had much to do with molding the literature of our times. Until now, however, his writings have been unevenly and incompletely represented in English. This collection, put together and translated by poet/scholar Weinfield, makes the poems of Mallarm accessible to late 20th-century readers for the first time. This hefty volume contains Weinfield's introduction; the poems and prose poems themselves, with English and French versions en face; and a meticulous poem-by-poem critique and commentary. By staying close to the language and meter of the originals, Weinfield has artfully retained their flavor. In 1866, when Mallarm was composing "Afternoon of a Faun," which the French poet Paul Valry considered the greatest poem in all of French literature, Mallarm wrote, "When a poem is ripe, it will drop free. You can see that I'm imitating the laws of nature." Throughout, the poet's creative process imitates nature as it ripens into the fresh fruits of his poetry. Essential for all libraries that collect poetry in English translation.-Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520207110
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
11/25/1996
Pages:
300
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

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Meet the Author

Henry Weinfield, Professor of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame, is author of three collections of poetry and The Poet without a Name: Gray's Elegy and the Problem of History (1991).

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