A Tomb for Anatole

ISBN: 0811215938
ISBN 13: 9780811215930
By: Stéphane Mallarmé Paul Auster

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About this book

One of the most moving accounts of a man trying to come to grips with modern death that is to say, death without God, death without hope of salvation and it reveals the secret meaning of Mallarme's whole aesthetic: the elevation of art to the stature of religion." Paul Auster, from the Introduction The great French Symbolist poet Stephane Mallarme (1842-1898), who changed the course of modern French literature (and influenced writers from James Joyce to T.S. Eliot to Wallace Stevens), suffered many tragedies. His mother died when he was just five years old, but in 1879 the cruelest blow of all struck when his beloved son Anatole died at the age of eight. A Tomb for Anatole presents the 202 fragments of Mallarme's projected long poem in four parts. By far the poet's most personal work, he could never bring himself to complete it. To speak publicly of his immense sorrow, Mallarme concluded, "for me, it's not possible." Unpublished in France until 1961, these works are very far from the oblique, cool "pure poetry" Mallarme is famous for, poetry that sought to capturepainstakingly"l'absente de tous bouquets" (the ideal flower absent from all bouquets). Paul Auster, who first published A Tomb for Anatole with the North Point Press in 1983 (a volume long out of print), notes in his excellent introduction that facing "the ultimate horror of every parent," these fragments "have a startling unmediated quality." As Mallarme writes, it is "a vision / endlessly purified / by my tears.

Reader's Thoughts


Paul Auster doesn't need any extra praise from me, but this odd, sad, wonderful book of fragments is really interesting. I've been reading this off and on for about a week now.


This is a text I read over and over again.


A perfect combination of Mallarmé's obliquely perfect understanding of the way words work on the page with an entirely, shall we say, sentimental subject guiding him through the void. The way these fragments float across the page, unfinished, sure, but still amounting to a level of poetic perfect unmmatched by virtually any one else. Also a total benchmark for much of the French poetry that I find obsessive--this, much more than A Throw of the Dice...--in combination with the writings of Le Livre, speak volumes in the development of certain poetic moves that I can feel pulse through my own void.

Steven Felicelli

from the sophisticated aesthete - a gut wrenching homage to his dead child


in many ways my favorite writing by mallarme


A touchy and perhaps impossible ability to grasp the fear and despair of losing someone, yet Stephane Mallarme through the cool eyes of using his craft or art to embrace and understand such a lost. It's a work that has a beginning but no ending. Death there is an ending but excepting or dealing with death it seems to be an open book.... for some.


This is the most affecting book I have ever read.


Beautiful book that links Mallarme's anticipatory postmodernism with his latent romanticism, all in the context of grief laid bare and the need to "say."


"What, the thing I am saying/is true--it is not/only music ----/ etc."I have recently had a series of fits reading criticism, a professional hazard, and I can imagine what critics might try to say about this poem. Instead, I will follow another recent (and happier) thread: finding books of lyric poetry that deliver beyond music and beyond artifice. Mallarme's inentent to create a vessel for his dead son resonates more deeply because it reamins in fragments, like Sappho's divine laments. And as a poet, well, I have not seen more immediately into another poet's mind, anywhere.

Amira Hanafi

This beautifully designed edition positions the original French unavoidably underneath the translation on each page. The juxtaposition is genius for Mallarme, whose poems are so utterly dependent on sound that the translations are something entirely other, and one can see & hear that clearly on each page.

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