Mallarme’s Sunset: Poetry at the End of Time

The writings of the great Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) were to become uniquely influential in twentieth century literary criticism. For critics and philosophers such as Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida, Mallarmé’s name came to represent a rupture in literary history, and an opening of literature onto a radically new kind of writing. Through close readings of key works, Norman retraces Mallarmé’s trajectory as a poet, showing in particular how he positioned his work in relation to Hegel’s Aesthetics. Analysing the motif of the sunset Norman argues that Mallarmé situated his work at the conclusion of the history of art, in Hegelian terms, and it is this that made him so interesting for Blanchot and Derrida. Their readings, born of their wish to subvert Hegel’s totalizing impulse, give rise to an entirely new view of works now almost universally seen as masterpieces.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Depuis Mallarmé

1 Hegel: The and of Art
The Aesthetics as Art History
Poetry and Interiority (The End of Art)

2 Hérodiade and the Conception of the ‘Œuvre pure’
Letters (The Great Ecstasy of Stéphane Mallarmé)

3 ‘Le Drame solaire’: Sonnet allégorique de lui-même
The ‘Sonnet nul’
The ‘Nothing-ing of Nothing’
The End of Art

4 L’Espace littéraire
‘L’Espace nocturne’
From Orpheus to ‘L’Absence de livre’

5 La Dissémination
The End of the Book: ‘La fin du livre e(s)t le commencement de l’écriture’
The Sessions

Afterword: Into the Zone

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