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Divagations
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Table of Contents

Autobiography Preface Anecdotes or Poems The Phenomenon of the Future Autumn Lament Winter Shudder The Demon of Analogy Poor Pale Child The Pipe An Interrupted Performance Reminiscence The Fairground Declaration The White Waterlily A Man of the Cloth Glory Conflict Volumes on My Divan Long Ago, in the Margins of a Copy of Baudelaire Capsule Sketches and Full-Length Portraits Piece: A Brief Summary of Vathek Villiers de l'Isle-Adam Verlaine Arthur Rimbaud Laurent Tailhade Beckford Tennyson Viewed from Here Theodore de Banville Edgar Poe Whistler Edouard Manet Berthe Morisot Richard Wagner Richard Wagner: The Reverie of a French Poet Scribbled at the Theater Scribbled at the Theater Hamlet Ballets Another Study of Dance: The Fundamentals of Ballet "The Only One Would Have To Be as Fluid as the Sorcerer" Mimesis Of Genre and the Moderns Parenthesis Stages and Pages Solemnity Music and Letters Music and Letters Crisis of Verse Crisis of Verse About the Book Restricted Action Displays The Book as Spiritual Instrument The Mystery in Letters Services Sacred Pleasure Catholicism The Same Important Miscellaneous News Briefs Gold Accusation Cloisters Magic Bucolic Solitude Confrontation The Court Safeguard Mallarme's Bibliography Translator's Note

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The translation is outstanding, and the collection (arranged according to the French writer's own plan) makes available in English a much fuller sample of Mallarme's remarkable and influential prose writings than was previously available. This book makes a major contribution to modern literary studies and aesthetics. -- Kevin McLaughlin, Brown University All Barbara Johnson's critical work over the years on modern French poetry and on Mallarme in particular informs her handling of each syntactically complex phrase, each tenuous preposition, each ellipsis, each shift in tone, each aside, each mild joke. It has been not only a pleasure but very often a revelation to me to read through this translation. Barbara Johnson's Divagations are going to launch a stunning, vital (by no means transparent) Mallarme not seen before. -- Ann Smock, author of What Is There To Say?

About the Author

Barbara Johnson taught in the departments of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and was the Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society. She is the author of The Critical Difference, A World of Difference, and The Wake of Deconstruction.

Reviews

Translator Johnson (English & comparative literature, Harvard Univ.) resurrects for English readers for the first time Divagations, the 1897 work of French symbolist Mallarme. The book is appropriately titled, as Mallarme's pieces wander from "Poor Pale Child," a reflection on a child singing and begging in the streets, to "Tennyson Viewed from Here," a tribute to the poetic gift of Alfred Tennyson on the occasion of his death. Throughout, Mallarme's profound love of words and poetry is clear. (He credits the work of Theodore de Banville, "the very voice of the lyre," as the inspiration behind his earliest writings.) For Mallarme, poetry is more than words on a page; it is at the center of what it means to be human. An appreciation of music, painting, and poetry is inextricably interwoven with his comments on the works of German composer Richard Wagner and French painter Edouard Manet. Mallarme's writings are in a dense, rich, hypnotic prose not for the casual reader. For the student of Mallarme, Johnson makes accessible a treasure of divagations. Appropriate for larger academic libraries.-Anthony Pucci, Notre Dame H.S., Elmira, NY Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

For Mallarme, poetry is more than words on a page; it is at the center of what it means to be human. An appreciation of music, painting, and poetry is inextricably interwoven with his comments on the works of German composer Richard Wagner and French painter Edouard Manet. Mallarme's writings are in a dense, rich, hypnotic prose. -- Anthony Pucci Library Journal 20070301 [A] lustrous new English translation...[A] remarkable book [and a] wise translator...I don't know whether I've expressed excitedly or lucidly enough my sense of this translation's importance. -- Wayne Koestenbaum Bookforum 20070401 Johnson is among the world's foremost Mallarme scholars, and this translation of "the author's 1897 arrangement" of this work, "together with 'Autobiography' and 'Music and Letters,'" is an unequivocal tour de force. Mallarme's French echoes through and the English sounds authentic and coherent. But the fact that this translation is Johnson's reading of Mallarme is its chief value. And this is why Mallarme scholars who read Mallarme in French will look at it and why scholars of comparable periods in English-language literatures and performance arts will consult it for Mallarme's commentaries. In addition, Johnson's rendering of Mallarme's voice will undoubtedly interest translation theorists. Surely this is the way Mallarme must have sounded to the English speakers intermittently translating what he was saying as he held forth at his Tuesday evening receptions: witty and insightful, to be sure, but sometimes pretentious and fatuous. -- M. Gaddis Rose Choice 20071101 Reading Divagations today, we see how resonantly [Mallarme's] world rhymes with ours: inequality, sleaze, financial crashes, terrorism and state repression, along with an acute sense of the spectacular nature of modern life, its commodity-fetishism and materialism, its paradoxes of plenitude and emptiness. Key to Mallarme's thinking is his refusal of those two great late-nineteenth-century paradigms, those mutually stabilizing opposites: Progress and Decline. He enjoys the democratization of luxury and beauty brought about by mass production, and does not denounce the glitter of fancy goods and their ephemeral pleasures. Nor does he "buy into" the belief that capital will always right itself or that science and technology guarantee social progress...Barbara Johnson has accomplished an exemplary work of translation, not just by making this important book available to non-French readers, but by carrying off Mallarme's uniquely eccentric prose style without flattening or straightening it out...Where Mallarme's poems strip away all that is not poetry, his prose brings it back into the fold, incorporates and recycles it. Recycling being the pragmatist's alchemy, and Mallarme being more of a pragmatist than we allow, Divagations can be read as the great recycling project that balances out the alchemy of his poetry. -- Patrick McGuinness Times Literary Supplement 20090619

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