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Divagations

Overview

"This is a book just the way I don't like them," the father of French Symbolism, Stéphane Mallarmé, informs the reader in his preface to Divagations: "scattered and with no architecture." On the heels of this caveat, Mallarmé's diverting, discursive, and gorgeously disordered 1897 masterpiece tumbles forth -- and proves itself to be just the sort of book his readers like most.

The salmagundi of prose poems, prose-poetic musings, criticism, ...
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Overview

"This is a book just the way I don't like them," the father of French Symbolism, Stéphane Mallarmé, informs the reader in his preface to Divagations: "scattered and with no architecture." On the heels of this caveat, Mallarmé's diverting, discursive, and gorgeously disordered 1897 masterpiece tumbles forth -- and proves itself to be just the sort of book his readers like most.

The salmagundi of prose poems, prose-poetic musings, criticism, and reflections that is Divagations has long been considered a treasure trove by students of aesthetics and modern poetry. If Mallarmé captured the tone and very feel of fin-de-siècle Paris, he went on to captivate the minds of the greatest writers of the twentieth century -- from Valéry and Eliot to Paul de Man and Jacques Derrida. This was the only book of prose he published in his lifetime; in a new translation by Barbara Johnson, it is now available for the first time in English as Mallarmé arranged it. The result is an entrancing work through which a notoriously difficult-to-translate voice shines in all of its languor and musicality.

Whether contemplating the poetry of Tennyson, the possibilities of language, a masturbating priest, or the transporting power of dance, Mallarmé remains a fascinating companion -- charming, opinionated, and pedantic by turns. As an expression of the Symbolist movement and as a contribution to literary studies, Divagations is vitally important. But it is also, in Johnson's masterful translation, endlessly mesmerizing.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Translator Johnson (English & comparative literature, Harvard Univ.) resurrects for English readers for the first time Divagations, the 1897 work of French symbolist Mallarmé. The book is appropriately titled, as Mallarmé's pieces wander from "Poor Pale Child," a reflection on a child singing and begging in the streets, to "Tennyson Viewed from Here," a tribute to the poetic gift of Alfred Tennyson on the occasion of his death. Throughout, Mallarmé's profound love of words and poetry is clear. (He credits the work of Théodore de Banville, "the very voice of the lyre," as the inspiration behind his earliest writings.) For Mallarmé, poetry is more than words on a page; it is at the center of what it means to be human. An appreciation of music, painting, and poetry is inextricably interwoven with his comments on the works of German composer Richard Wagner and French painter Edouard Manet. Mallarmé's writings are in a dense, rich, hypnotic prose not for the casual reader. For the student of Mallarmé, Johnson makes accessible a treasure of divagations. Appropriate for larger academic libraries.
—Anthony Pucci

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781230428062
  • Publisher: General Books LLC
  • Publication date: 9/12/2013
  • Language: French
  • Pages: 62
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Johnson taught in the departments of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and was the Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society. She is the author of The Critical Difference, A World of Difference, and The Wake of Deconstruction.

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Table of Contents


Autobiography     1
Divagations
Preface     8
Anecdotes or Poems
The Phenomenon of the Future     11
Autumn Lament     13
Winter Shudder     15
The Demon of Analogy     17
Poor Pale Child     19
The Pipe     21
An Interrupted Performance     23
Reminiscence     26
The Fairground Declaration     27
The White Waterlily     33
A Man of the Cloth     37
Glory     39
Conflict     41
Volumes on My Divan
Long Ago, in the Margins of a Copy of Baudelaire     49
Piece: A Brief Summary of Vathek     50
Capsule Sketches and Full-Length Portraits
Villiers de l'Isle-Adam     55
Verlaine     62
Arthur Rimbaud     64
Laurent Tailhade     73
Beckford     75
Tennyson Viewed from Here     86
Theodore de Banville     91
Edgar Poe     96
Whistler     97
Edouard Manet     98
Berthe Morlsot     99
Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner: The Reverie of a French Poet     107
Scribbled at theTheater
Scribbled at the Theater     117
Hamlet     124
Ballets     129
Another Study of Dance: The Fundamentals of Ballet     129
"The Only One Would Have To Be as Fluid as the Sorcerer"     138
Mimesis     140
Of Genre and the Moderns     142
Parenthesis     153
Stages and Pages     156
Solemnity     164
Music and Letters
Music and Letters     173
Crisis of Verse
Crisis of Verse     201
About The Book
Restricted Action     215
Displays     220
The Book as Spiritual Instrument     226
The Mystery in Letters     231
Services
Sacred Pleasure     239
Catholicism     243
The Same     249
Important Miscellaneous News Briefs
Gold     255
Accusation     257
Cloisters     259
Magic     263
Bucolic     266
Solitude     271
Confrontation     276
The Court     281
Safeguard     286
Mallarme's Bibliography     293
Translator's Note     299
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