Mallarme in Prose

Stephane Mallarme, Author, Mary Ann Caws, Editor, Malcolm Bowie, Translator New Directions Publishing Corporation $14.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1451-3
While St phane Mallarm wrote as much prose as poetry, little of that side of his writing has made its way into English. Caws (who also edited St phane Mallarm : Selected Poetry and Prose) and five other translators contribute letters, articles, vignettes, paeans to Poe and Tennyson, literary criticism, appreciations of ballet and miscellaneous, unclassifiable pieces to emphasize just how much more of Mallarm there is to read. Of the writer's major works, Caws has chosen excerpts from Les Mots anglais, a work that reflects less Mallarm 's insights into English than his fascination with the mysteries of language itself. Although there is nothing to represent Mallarm 's study in mythology, Les Dieux antiques (1880), there are selections from one of his money-making ventures, his fashion magazine La Derni re Mode (1874), such as his disquisition on the metaphysics of the top hat. There are even a few fragmentary notes from his inscrutable, incomplete work Le Livre. Apart from the necessary ecstatic impenetrability of the Symbolists, Mallarm often engages in jeux d'esprit here. ""Wait, for modesty's sake,"" he playfully begs an interlocutor, ""for me to make it a little more obscure."" Although there's an element of a chocolate-box assortment to this sampling, with so little of Mallarm 's prose in translation, Caws's collection becomes the de facto best introduction. (Feb. 28)
Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
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