French poet. A leader of the Symbolist school, he became known as a poet's poet for his condensed, hermetic verse and unorthodox syntax, reaching for the ideal world of the intellect. His belief that poetry should be evocative and suggestive was reflected in L'Après-midi d'un faune/Afternoon of a Faun
(1876; illustrated by Manet), which inspired the composer Debussy. Later works are Poésies complètes/Complete Poems
(1887), Vers et prose/Verse and Prose
(1893), and the prose Divagations/Digressions
After 1863 he composed mindfully and looked for the ideal essence of things beyond everyday reality, a movement symbolized by the heroine of the poem Hérodiade 1864 and the satyr of L'Après-midi d'un faune
(first composed 1865) and their attitudes of withdrawal and refusal. Mallarmé's important poems do not progress by images or by plot and narrative; instead they are self-contained verbal artifacts built around a central object (a room, a chair, stars), symbol, or idea. He devoted his life to the creation of a language capable of transmuting everyday realities onto a higher level. He also experimented with the visual impact of written verse, notably Un Coup de dés/A Cast of the Dice 1914, in which the words are irregularly placed on the page and differing typefaces are used.
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