130 Pages


In the Revue wagnerienne, Stephane Mallarme describes Wagner's music-dramas as follows:

Now, indeed, a music which ... expresses above all the irresolute and the intuitive, intermingles the characters' colors and lines with timbres and themes in an atmosphere richer in Reverie than all the air here below, deity costumed in the invisible folds of a fabric of chords; or which is on the verge of carrying Drama away on its wave of Passion, with an outburst too vast for a lone man, hurling him, twisting him: and shielding him from a knowledge of it, lost within this superhuman affiux, to make it grasp him once again when all will be subdued with song, burst forth with the wrench of inspiring thought. 1

Mallarme's prose, like his poetry, is often difficult to penetrate. It combines words and grammatical constructions in unusual ways, loosening the expected connection between the verbal symbol and its referent, often to the point of apparent irrationality. This striving toward irrational effect, toward experience unmediated by reason (symbolized by the distortion of the intellect's primary ordering system, language), earned for Mallarme and his circle a reputation as "ecstatic sou1s."2