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Translation as Oneself

The Re-Creative Modernism in Stéphane Mallarmé’s Late Sonnets, T. S. Eliot’s "Poems</I>, and the Prose Poetry since Charles-Pierre Baudelaire


Noriko Takeda

Translation encompasses the whole of humanness, and, as indicated by C. S. Peirce, translation is interpretation. It involves the cognitive process in its entirety, which is based on the unconscious life force shared globally through the species. Synonymous with «untranslatability» in the challenging ambiguity, the generic unit named modernist poetry represents the potential of human activities as incessant translations. The interactive cognateness of translation and modernist poetry is clarified through this book on the purported untranslatability of the poems by the avant-gardists, in particular, Stéphane Mallarmé and T. S. Eliot. Modernism also accelerated the reformation of Japanese poetry, as is exemplified by a new genre modeled on Charles-Pierre Baudelaire’s poetry in prose. These inspiring texts direct the reader to re-create the world with their multidimensional growth of meanings. The translation of the verbal artifacts plays a key role to the sustainability of human beings, along with their conditions as a circular whole.
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Chapter Two. Form or Meaning: Stéphane Mallarmé’s Quest for Oneness through Poetic Totalization

← 19 | 20 → CHAPTER TWO


Stéphane Mallarmé’s Quest for Oneness through Poetic Totalization

For his late poems, Stéphane Mallarmé frequently chose generic titles. All of them are “Plusieurs Sonnets,” “Hommage,” “Tombeau,” “Prose,” “Petit air,” and “Chansons Bas.” “Hommage” is a rewording of “ode,” a traditional genre of poetry, and “tombeau” is another name for “épitaphe/epitaph.”

The other ones “Salut,” “Feuillet d’Album,” “Eventail,” “Autre Eventail,” “Toast funèbre,” and “Remémoration d’Amis belges” are also general, if not “generic” in the sense of circumscribing a genre of literature.

The three specified exceptions “Le Tombeau d’Edgar Poe,” “Le Tombeau de Charles Baudelaire,” and “Billet à Whistler” have only slightly developed the generic designations.

The titles involving a semantic broadness tend to be pushed into a dissipated absence: Among Mallarmé’s 30 late poems in his second and last collection published in 1899, 9 pieces are without titles. Each of the pieces gathered under the umbrella labels, “Plusieurs Sonnets” and “Chansons Bas,” may be viewed as titleless. The exclusive individualization of the early titles, kept in “Le Pitre châtié,” “Les Fleurs,” and “L’Azur,” is consistently avoided in the poet’s late project. The collection as a whole is simply entitled Les Poésies, thereby starting and concluding Mallarmé’s comprehensive oneness.1

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