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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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The Scene of the (C)rime: ‘Sonnet allégorique de lui-même’ (1868)

The Scene of the (C)rime: ‘Sonnet allégorique de lui-même’ (1868)

(p.144) 2 The Scene of the (C)rime: ‘Sonnet allégorique de lui-même’ (1868)
Unfolding Mallarmé

Roger Pearson

Oxford University Press

The obvious way to begin reading ‘Sonnet allégorique de lui-m ême’ is in terms of Mallarmé's own commentary. Many critics have thought that the scene which the poet describes in his letter to Cazalis is the origin of the suggestive ‘décor / De l'absence’ mentioned in the poem itself. But Mallarmé says only that his sonnet ‘me semble se prêter à une eau-forte […]’: that is, he had already written it before receiving Cazalis's request and has decided to extract it from a projected work on ‘la Parole’ because it lends itself more or less to a volume requiring poems which might suitably be illustrated by etchings. Mallarmé's description is offered only as an ‘exemple’ of a possible picture. Instead he is adamant that the poem may have no meaning at all in a conventional, representational sense; it is ‘inverse’, he remarks, indicating that here is a poem born of itself. Such meaning as it may contain ‘est évoqué par un mirage interne des mots mêmes’: it is a ‘sonnet nul et se réfléchissant de toutes les façons’.

Keywords:   Mallarmé, Sonnet allégorique de lui-même, commentary, sonnet, Cazalis

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