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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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(p.235) 1 ‘Circonstances’
Unfolding Mallarmé

Roger Pearson

Oxford University Press

The obvious parallels with Igitur indicate that the central analogy between the poetic act and a throw of the dice dates back to the 1860s; and the desperate final hope that the poem may at least offer some semblance of order and necessity in the manner of a ‘constellation’, notably the Plough, recalls the argument and imagery of ‘Sonnet allégorique de lui-même’ (1868). Certain formal features, on the other hand, develop out of Mallarmé's more recent experiments during the period since 1887. The move from the Petrarchan to the Shakespearean sonnet in which the lines of verse are increasingly permutable by the reader; the growing preference for the shorter octosyllabic and heptasyllabic lines because of the heightened sense of the precariousness of language amidst the whiteness of the (silent) page; the replacement of conventional punctuation with spatial disposition as a complement to syntactic ambiguity; all of these features come to brilliant fruition in ‘Un coup de Dés’.

Keywords:   Mallarmé, prose poem, music, letters, Un coup de Dés

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