Frameworks for Mallarmé: The Photo and the Graphic of an Interdisciplinary Aesthetic

Frameworks for Mallarmé: The Photo and the Graphic of an Interdisciplinary Aesthetic

Gayle Zachmann

Language: English

Pages: 226

ISBN: 2:00284354

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Countering the conventional image of the deliberately obscure “ivory-tower poet,” Frameworks for Mallarmé presents Stéphane Mallarmé as a journalist and critic who was actively engaged with the sociocultural and technological shifts of his era. Gayle Zachmann introduces a writer whose aesthetic was profoundly shaped by contemporary innovations in print and visual culture, especially the nascent art of photography. She analyzes the preeminence of the visual in conjunction with Mallarmé’s quest for “scientific” language, and convincingly links the poet’s production to a nineteenth-century understanding of cognition that is articulated in terms of optical perception. The result is a distinctly modern recuperation of the Horatian doctrine of ut pictura poesis in Mallarmé’s poetry and his circumstantial writings.

“…fascinating and beautifully written … Frameworks for Mallarmé is a model of rich interdisciplinary scholarship … it makes a valuable contribution to Mallarmé studies while appealing to general audiences interested in literature, art history, history, media studies, photography, psychology, and nineteenth-century European studies.” — Romanic Review

“…Zachmann takes as her methodological approach an original and productive stance, that of situating Stéphane Mallarmé quite squarely into the cultural context of his time … Zachmann’s study provides today’s students and scholars of Mallarmé an appreciation and analysis of his poetic art from a fresh and inclusive critical point of view.” — French Review

“…Zachmann sets out to reveal how deeply embedded in Mallarmé’s theorizing and practice intermedial thinking was, and to do so by exploring his participation in, and responses to, th















highly sensationalized debates ensued on the relative virtues of imitation and exactitude, the romantic modernists progressively refined and, indeed, radicalized their positions. To temper the ambiguity of their insistence on the natural, modernists stressed the nature of the artistic agent’s perception of the real or art’s metaphysical properties.19 Nevertheless, their early insistence on verisimilitude, illusions of “reality,” and the “natural” provided the impetus for the various strains of

asserted that their art was distinct from “reality” and publicly denounced such notions as utility and progress in art, their descriptions are nonetheless extremely precise and objectified. In Gautier’s Emaux et Camées and the sonnets of Leconte de Lisle, for example, while the poetic voice is the organizing force behind the poems, explicit subjectivity is removed. In a letter to Baudelaire, Victor Hugo astutely acknowledges the difference between the public pronouncements and tactical positions

meaning, this heightened perception, a textually induced mobile lucidity, is in some way reconstructed in the mind. While it seems a question of constant activity, triggered by the perceptions of the reader’s inductive mind, these impressions are structured by a semantic, syntactic, literary, or even social context. In the discussion of syntax that follows in the essay, Mallarmé addresses the systematic arrangement of words and the way in which this deliberate poetic technique maximizes the

somewhere between the postromantic and the modern. But what is this “phase récente”? Mallarmé’s proclamation of a “finale d’un siècle,” heralded as a news item (“fait d’actualité”), insists upon a historical break and performatively denotes that crisis in the shrieking assonance of the phrase, “ici une exquise crise.” He hyperbolically frames this break—“pour la première fois, au cours de l’histoire littéraire d’aucun peuple,” “jusqu’à présent,” “toute la nouveauté” (207)—to display and

Rosemary Lloyd, Mallarmé: The Poet and His Circle (1999), Jean-Michel Nectoux, Un clair regard dans les ténèbres, poésie, peinture, musique (1998), Jane Mayo Roos, ed., A Painter’s Poet: Stéphane Mallarmé and His Impressionist Circle (1999), Marilyn Stokstad and Bret Waller, eds., Les Mardis: Stéphane Mallarmé and the Artists of His Circle (1965). 3. My use of the term “poet-critic” in this chapter refers quite simply to his role as an interartistic aesthetician; my reading does not exclude

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