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Re-casting Mallarmé: Introduction Jean-Michel Rabaté and Philippe Met THE RECENT CENTENARY OF MALLARMÉ'S DEATH has capped an already long and rich history of critical studies with a fresh spate of scholarly contributions (books, colloquia proceedings, special issues, tributes, exhibitions and new translations) in France and elsewhere, and generated at least two major landmarks: the first volume of the new Pléiade edition of the poet's collected works, presenting us, thanks to Bertrand Marchal's laudable efforts, with radically new versions of canonical as well as lesserknown texts; and the monumental and meticulous biography of Mallarmé by Jean-Luc Steinmetz (Stéphane Mallarmé. L'absolu au jour le jour), the first one in French in over a half-century.1 One may then wonder whether there is any shaded area left or simply further reducible in the Mallarméan landscape, any blind spot resisting scrutiny, and therefore any pressing need for yet another reexamination of such an iconic poet. The purpose of this issue is not to (pr)offer one more improbable fiat lux on Mallarmé's œuvre. Its premise, rather, is not only that the poet himself has been an unsurpassed beacon of modernity to generations of writers and intellectuals, such as Paul Valéry, Pierre Oster, Yves Bonnefoy, Julia Kristeva , Jacques Derrida or Michel Deguy, but that from one turn-of-the-century to the next Mallarmé remains for us un contemporain considérable. Or conversely , and more aptly perhaps, that we are still striving to be Mallarmé's worthy contemporaries. The various essays included in this special issue2 are thus to be read as a testimony to Mallarmé's literary, and more largely aesthetic, ongoing relevance to the artists of the twenty-first century. "Re-casting" Mallarmé today implies a concomitant reconsideration of the hyphenating potential and efficacy of his gesture whereby relations to music, choreography, the pictorial or visual arts, or various regimes of "translation" are simultaneously emphasized and displaced. If the experimental and modernist thrust of Mallarmé's legacy is mostly privileged, the diverse historical determinations (scientific and technological advances suggesting new possible paradigms) bearing on its genealogy are also closely traced, as one should not minimize the extent to which his mental apparatus was shaped by a fin-de-siècle mentality that cultivated long-lost refinements of expression, while discovering with some amazement Vol. XL, No. 3 3 L'Esprit Créateur the "masses" and their growing social unrest. Mary Ann Caws' study precisely looks at Mallarmé's durable albeit paradoxical gift to modernity via a principle of negative space, from the offcentering he shared with Whistler to the constellation of folds within folds that was an inspiration to Duchamp as well as Boulez and Cage. Anthony Zielonka revisits the adaptations of L'après-midi d'un faune (Debussy's Prélude and Nijinsky's ballet) to show that music as the first mirage of the Gesamtkunstwerk radicalizes the inner theatricality implied by the Faun's erotic reverie. Through a discussion of the erasure of the identity/authority of authorship and provocative parallels between the Mallarméan Book and technology, Felicia McCarren is able to suggest that cinema concretized the three components Mallarmé meant to build into his Livre: three-dimensionality, rhythm and unfeasibility. GayIe Zachmann examines Mallarmé's mechanistic conception of the mind as camera, his photo-graphic cadrage and the various ways in which such topical figures or processes as ekphrasis, mimesis and ut pictura poesis were reevalued, revitalized by his theory and practice. Using some of the key concepts developed by Deleuze in The Logic of Sense, Dan Edelstein delineates a serial relationship between the "Sonnet en -yx," ¡gitur and "Victorieusement fui...." Highlighting the structural reversal and doubling-up of Vs and Xs, he shows the mirror image to be the defining object of the series, its very center, rather than a mere thematic or rhetorical convention. The serial model thus sketched intersects with a specific mythological pattern based on the sunset figure. Focusing her attention on the shift of identities (anonymity, transvestism, use of pseudonyms, transposition of authorial identity and signature) and the confrontation with the Other (translation as both a foreignizing and a domesticating...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 3-5
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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