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

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Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania, the Florence Gould Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation for the support that brought forward the thesis on which this book is based. I express my warm appreciation to Columbia University, Paris, and particularly to Mihaela Bacou, Danielle Haase-Dubosc, and Brunhilde Biebuyck for providing a home to my thoughts years ago at the Columbia University Graduate Research Institute. I am grateful for their daily

processes” and the relations between the visual and the verbal23— may just provide that sought-after negative from which the poet developed his (in)famously complex speculative aesthetic. Bertrand Marchal’s presentation of the manuscript in the recent Gallimard/Pléiade edition restores (when possible) the manuscript to its original order (state of draft versus notes versus relatively polished draft). This reconstruction is, paradoxically, a deconstruction, since it destabilizes the rationalized

without blurring, and because tones of certain colors were grossly distorted. To Baudelaire such defects presented a window of opportunity for painting and the artistic imagination, which could supply the movement and color he so cherished. But can the valorization of movement really be divorced from this technology? While Baudelaire insists that it is the movement of the artist’s nature and vision that should be framed, suggesting that the industry of photography can never attain such an art,

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

and society’s perceptions of it. In his critical works “Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century” and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Walter Benjamin posits a crisis in art and perception catalyzed by technological changes and mass production geared toward consumption by the multitudes; he underlines the importance of photography as one of the developing forces in this transformation of perception. 17 18 F RAMEWORKS FOR M ALLARMÉ During long periods of history, the

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