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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)

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

Roger Pearson

Oxford University Press

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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