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  • Le Sacrifice de la sirène: "Un coup de dés" et la poétique de Stéphane Mallarmé
  • Sayeeda H. Mamoon
d’Origny Lübecker, Nikolaj. Le Sacrifice de la sirène: "Un coup de dés" et la poétique de Stéphane Mallarmé. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2003. Pp. 218. ISBN87-7289-825-9

Nikolaj d'Origny Lübecker's recent work consists of a two-part study in which the initial chapters offer a sophisticated interpretation of Un Coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard while the latter half of the investigation inscribes Mallarmé within a utopian poetic community and delineates a social space for his writing. Loosely unified by the common thread of Mallarméan poetics, the two main divisions of Le Sacrifice de la sirène pursue two different objectives – the first part masterfully delivering an aesthetic analysis of Un Coup de dés through intricate textual decoding and intertextual associations, and the second segment carving out a social context for Mallarmé's ideas from selected readings in Divagations. Both parts of Le Sacrifice de la sirène function as comprehensive units, which may be read independently or as complementary pieces.

While the Preface to Le Sacrifice de la sirène clearly states the double intent of the study and competently sets up the premise for both inquiries, the first chapter of the work reviews seminal texts on the structure and layout of Mallarmé's Un Coup de dés, with particular attention to Gardner Davies's Vers une explication rationelle du "Coup de dés." Taking issue with Davies, who rejects any parallel between a musical score – "la partition" and the "disposition" of Un Coup de dés, Lübecker compares the architecture of the poem to "une mélodie en chute se répétant de feuille en feuille" (27), adding that Un Coup de dés goes beyond the mimetic function of a musical or pictorial replication by discovering hidden connections and the silent rhythm of objects – "le poème saisit le rythme des choses pour ensuite le transposer . . . sur la feuille" (29).

Challenging canonical interpretations of Un Coup de dés which magnify the poem's hypothetical aspects through insistence on the line "rien n'aura eu lieu que le lieu" and strip the poem of action (38), the second, third, and fourth chapters of Le Sacrifice de la sirène propose an inventive new reading by privileging the episodes of "la sirène" and " la foudre." The second chapter astutely points out that the only two verbs in passé simple – "imposa" and "sursauta" in Un Coup de dés allude to the mermaid instance and the clap of thunder (38-39). The next chapter invites the reader to discern in the lashing of the mermaid's tail and the flash of the thunderbolt dynamic forces, which lend action to the poem and dramatize it:

S'il est vrai qu'en général le poème évite l'action dramatique, l'incident de la sirène propose une exception. Que le poème soit hypothèse («tout se passe en hypoth-èse») ne signifie donc pas qu'il ne se passe rien dans cette hypothèse. Au contraire, le poème de Mallarmé présente l'hypothèse d'un instant (celui du coup de foudre) échappant au tout déploiement temporel. Le texte acquiert ainsi un caractère dramatique.

(47) [End Page 438]

The elucidation of the mermaid incident ends in the fourth chapter tracing insightful connections and parallels between Un Coup de dés and other Mallarmé works, namely "A la nue accablante tu," Igitur, "La Musique et les lettres," and the "sonnet en –x."

The fifth chapter of the book entitled "Le secret et la danse" draws an analogy between the mermaid and her earthly incarnation, the dancer – "une version terrestre de la sirène: la danseuse" (95) to introduce the element of sacrifice. As explained in the Preface of the study, Lübecker understands the term sacrifice in the light of Marcel Mauss's and Henri Hubert's definition – as a communion between the sacred and the profane worlds achieved...


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