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Stéphane Mallarmé, France | 1842-1898

One Toss of the Dice Never Will Abolish Chance (1897) (PDF)
[ translated by Basil Cleveland ]

One Toss of the Dice Never Will Abolish Chance (1897) (HTML)
[ translated by Christopher Mulrooney ]


    Stéphane Mallarmé was born in Paris in 1842. He taught English in from 1864 in Tournon, Besançon, Avignon and Paris until his retirement in 1893. Malarmé began writing poetry at an early age under the influence of Charles Baudelaire. His first poems started to appear in magazines in the 1860s. Mallarmé's most well known poems are L'Aprés Midi D'un Faun (The Afternoon of a Faun)  (1865), which inspired Debussy's tone poem (1894) of the same name and was illustrated by Manet. Among his other works are Hérodiade (1896) and Toast Funèbre  (A Funeral Toast), which was written in memory of the author Théopile Gautier. Mallarmé's later works include the experimental poem Un Coup de Dés (1914), published posthumously. 
     From the 1880s Mallarmé was the center of a group of french writers in Paris, including André Gide and Paul Valéry, to whom he communicated his ideas on poetry and art. According to his theories, nothing lies beyond reality, but within this nothingness lies the essence of perfect forms and it is the task of the poet to reveal and crystallize these essences. Mallarmé's poetry employs condensed figures and unorthodox syntax. Each poem is build around a central symbol, idea, or metaphor and consists on subordinate images that illustrate and help to develop the idea. Mallarmé's vers libre and word music shaped the 1890s Decadent movement. 
    For the rest of his life Mallarmé devoted himself to putting his literary theories into practice and writing his Grand Oeuvre (Great Work). Mallarmé died in Paris on September 9, 1898 without completing this work.


Stéphane Mallarmé bio on Wikipedia






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