Mallarmé's cinepoetics: The poem uncoiled by the cinématographe, 1893-98

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Abstract

Between 1893 and his death in 1898, Stéphane Mallarmé experimented with a poetics permeated by the emerging technology of cinema. Close to technicians and journalists of early film, Mallarmé developed what might be called a cine-poetics, especially in Un coup de dés (1897) - the ur-modernist visual poem whose preface recoups the single declaration he made on cinema - and in the unrealized project known as Le Livre (1893-98), a poetic performance involving electrical lighting and image projection. Close readings make explicit Mal-Iarmé's cinepoetic aesthetics. Its epistemology of déroulement 'unfolding' is compared with that of other 1890s figures: Étienne-Jules Marey, Henri Bergson, and Loïe Fuller. Cinepoetry has not been recognized as the distinct practice it was, although Walter Benjamin and Jacques Derrida came close to theorizing Mallarmé's interest in cinema. Cinepoetic experimentation has shadowed the whole French vanguard. The study of its genealogy should reshape our understanding of the intersection of modernist lyricism and new media. (CW-R)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-147+310
JournalPMLA
Volume120
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

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