At the age of fifty Stephane Mallarme (1842-98) spoke of his published work as very precise reference points on my mind's journey. In Stephane Mallarme , Roger Pearson charts that journey for the first time, blending a biographical account of the poet's life with a detailed analysis of his evolving poetic theory and practice. A poet on this earth must be uniquely a poet', he declared at the age of twenty-two, and he duly lived a poet's life. But what is a poet's life? What is a poet's function? In his poems, in complex prose statements, and by the example of his life, Mallarme provided answers to these questions. To Mallarme, being a poet meant many things: a continuous, lifelong investigation of language and its expressive potential; and bringing people together, as much in life as in poetry. His Tuesday salons were famous with visitors including Yeats, Rilke and Verlaine, as well as the artists Manet, Reir, Whistler and Gauguin; his poetry inspired music by Debussy, Ravel and Boulez; and his poem A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance spread over 20 pages and combining verse with varied typography inspires poets and visual artists to this day. Poetry was a way of bringing all human beings together in heightened awareness and an understanding of the magnificent act of living. Stephane Mallarme chronicles a fascinating and utterly unique voice in French poetry. It will t only prove an essential resource for students of English and French literature, but an engaging book for anyone interested in nineteenth-century France.
Roger Pearson is Professor of French at the University of Oxford. His publications include Unfolding Mallarme: The Development of a Poetic Art (1996) and Mallarme and Circumstance: The Translation of Silence (2004), of which the latter won the R. H. Gapper Prize by the Society for French Studies. His Voltaire Almighty (2005) was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography.