Un Coup de Dés & Other Poems

Mallarmé, Stéphane (1842–1898), translated by Kline, A. S. (contact-email)

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These translations of Mallarmé’s major poetry reflect his position as a leading Symbolist poet of the nineteenth century. His use of complex syntax, and subtle turns of phrase, often makes his verse seem more abstruse than its content indicates, revealing as it does a relatively narrow though sophisticated world, predominantly literary and philosophical in nature. His poetry provides an impression of a gleaming fin-de-siècle void, the gleam indeed strongly related to the world of Impressionist painting, the void partly a consequence of the earlier poetry of Baudelaire and Rimbaud with its analysis of the emptiness and frustrations of modern life, and partly derived from his own experience and thought. Of particular note is Mallarmé’s free-verse poem Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (‘A throw of the dice will never abolish chance’). An experiment in typographical layout, the author used variable spacing to indicate voids and pauses which highlight and contrast with the elements of text. The poem has influenced many later experiments in the graphic design of free verse texts.

Author Details

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Kline, A. S.

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