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Stéphane Mallarmé

Stéphane Mallarmé (1842 - 1898) was a French poet and writer.

Mallarmé was a major French symbolist poet and rightly famed for his salons, occasional gatherings of intellectuals at his house for discussions of poetry, art, philosophy.

His fin-de-siecle style is anticipatory of many of the developments in fusions between art and poetry which were to blossom in the Dadaist, Surrealist and Futurist schools, where the tension between the words on the page and the way in which they were displayed was paramount. But whereas most of the latter work was concerned principally with form, Mallarmé's work was concerned with style and content: this is particularly evident in the highly innovative Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard (trans. "A roll of the dice") of 1897, his last major poem. Mallarmé is considered one of the French poets most difficult to translate into English. This is largely due to the inherently vague nature of much of his work.

Mallarmé's poetry has been compared to music, particularly Claude Debussy who set a free interpretation of Mallarmé's poem L'Après-Midi d'un faune (1876) to music in Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (1894); that is, powerful impressions created by striking but isolated phrases. For many years, the Tuesday night sessions in his apartment on the rue de Rome were considered the heart of Paris intellectual life as W.B. Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Valéry, Stefan George, Paul Verlaine, and many more held court with Mallarmé as the judge, jester, and king.