chapter  5
10 Pages

Mallarmé and the infinite

WithCharles Chadwick

Stephane Mallarme’s theory of transcendental Symbolism sprang originally from the same sense of dissatisfaction with reality as his fellow Symbolists experienced, and this sense of dissatisfaction, in its turn, may well be attributable to similar causes. Thus far Mallarme’s poetry clearly resembles that of Baudelaire, but by the end of 1864, with his keen and probing mind and his need for an intellectually satisfying answer to his longings, Mallarme found that he could not simply take refuge in some vague, exotic dream of an ideal world. In devising inadequate system Mallarme was clearly breaking away from the restraints of conventional forms of expression more than any of his fellow Symbolist poets. The use of different lettering enabled him to convey by visual means the importance of the main clause and to indicate the various subordinate clauses far more clearly than by the use of punctuation.