The first comprehensive study of Mallarmé's 'poetry of circumstance' in any language, this book is a companion volume to the author's well-received 'Unfolding Mallarmé: The Development of a Poetic Art' (Clarendon Press, 1996).
Following his Unfolding Mallarmebook is the second in Roger Pearson's authoritative two-volume study of the work of Stephanie Mallarme (1842-1898), and the first comprehensive study of Mallarme's 'poetry of circumstance' in any language. For Mallarme, in a world without God, the role of the poet is to break the silence with language and to confer upon the contingency of circumstance atherapeutic semblance of formal and semantic pattern. Literature provides a 'translation of silence', 'intimate galas' in which the mysterious drama of the human condition is performed for and by the reader on the stage of the verse poem, the prose poem, and what Mallarme calls the 'poeme critique'. In Part 1, Pearson examines the prosepoems within the context of Mallarme's writing about the theatre. In Part II, he focuses on the 'circumstanzas' - the famous 'Tombeaux', 'Hommages', 'Eventails', and 'vers de circonstance' - in which Mallarme invests the quotidian with the 'glorious lie' of poetry. In a series of close readings Pearson demonstrates how complex poetic structures, and especially the sonnet, may serve to guide the human search for meaning and shape our anguish in a 'ceremony of the Book.'