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Unfolding MallarméThe Development of a Poetic Art$
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Roger Pearson

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198159179

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198159179.001.0001

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With the Eyes of Rhyme: ‘Prose (pour des Esseintes)’ (?1871–1885)

With the Eyes of Rhyme: ‘Prose (pour des Esseintes)’ (?1871–1885)

Chapter:
(p.208) 3 With the Eyes of Rhyme: ‘Prose (pour des Esseintes)’ (?1871–1885)
Source:
Unfolding Mallarmé
Author(s):

Roger Pearson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198159179.003.0016

First published in the Revue indépendant in January 1885, ‘Prose (pour des Esseintes)’, may date back to the early 1870s, but the appearance of Huysmans's A rebours in May 1884 was probably the catalyst which caused Mallarméto polish an already well-advanced version into definitive, publishable form. Sometimes considered Mallarmé's most enigmatic poem, ‘Prose’ quickly loses some of its apparent impenetrability when compared with a number of his other works. The much debated relationship between ‘je’ and the ‘soeur’ recalls the ‘dyadic’ character of both ‘Hérodiade’ and ‘L'Après-midi d'un faune’, and duality is evidently a central preoccupation of the poem. Prose/poetry, seeing/hearing, speaking/writing, music/letters, sound/silence, handwriting/typography are but some of the more reflexive oppositions: this poem ‘pour des Esseintes’ is also a ‘synthèse’. Moreover, like ‘L'Après-midi d'un faune’, ‘Prose’ constitutes a poetic act in the afternoon; following a midday moment of silence, an attempt is made to recapture an ecstatic moment in which beauty is glimpsed.

Keywords:   Mallarmé, Prose, poetry, poems

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