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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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‘La Pénultième’ (c.1865–1874)

‘La Pénultième’ (c.1865–1874)

(p.74) 3 ‘La Pénultième’ (c.1865–1874)
Unfolding Mallarmé

Roger Pearson

Oxford University Press

‘Le Démon de l'analogie’ is commonly assumed to date from 1864 but there is no clear evidence that any version existed before Mallarmé sent one to Villiers de l'Isle-Adam in 1867. This text has rightly attracted much critical attention as a prefiguration of Mallarmé's allegedly ‘later’ aesthetic, but it may by now be evident that its focus on the autonomous power of language is not an isolated or atypical feature of Mallarmé's writing from this period. Nevertheless, borrowing from Poe's ‘The Imp of the Perverse’ the central idea of a pedestrian pursued by words, it gives a particularly clear account of the way in which Mallarmé now saw language as generating a world of its own. Language is the event, and ‘Le Démon de l'analogie’ offers an allegorical account of how a poet finds his poetic voice in the face of language's autonomy.

Keywords:   Mallarmé, poet, language, Le Démon de l'analogie, poetic voice

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