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Mallarmé: The Politics of the Siren by Jacques Rancière (review)

Mallarmé: The Politics of the Siren by Jacques Rancière (review) Jacques Rancière, Mallarmé: The Politics of the Siren New York: Continuum, 211,0 xvi + 94 pp. Mallarmé is a dic ffi ult poet, and this book, like many others on the nineteenth- century French poet, readily attests to the fact. But he is not, claims Rancière, a hermetic poet, willfully and self- indulgently complex, singing a siren’s song to the virtues of poetic Enigma. Nor is he a poet floating far above the everyday world, writing poetry too “pure” to oe ff r any relevant engagement with social or political matters. The argument of Rancière’s book is that, on the contrary, there is a politics to be discerned in Mallarmé—a politics of the siren. If Rancière begins, therefore, on the acknowledgement that Mallarmé is a diffi- cult poet, it is in order to declare that what is dic ffi ult about this poet is appreciating the political task Mallarmé sets himself. That task is to inspect the possibilities of imagining new forms of social community. “Imagining” is not quite the right word, however, and Rancière would probably reject the criticism that literary visions of a new polity can only be experiments in idealism—literary fantasies, not exercises in real- world http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Mallarmé: The Politics of the Siren by Jacques Rancière (review)

The Comparatist , Volume 37 – May 12, 2013

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

Jacques Rancière, Mallarmé: The Politics of the Siren New York: Continuum, 211,0 xvi + 94 pp. Mallarmé is a dic ffi ult poet, and this book, like many others on the nineteenth- century French poet, readily attests to the fact. But he is not, claims Rancière, a hermetic poet, willfully and self- indulgently complex, singing a siren’s song to the virtues of poetic Enigma. Nor is he a poet floating far above the everyday world, writing poetry too “pure” to oe ff r any relevant engagement with social or political matters. The argument of Rancière’s book is that, on the contrary, there is a politics to be discerned in Mallarmé—a politics of the siren. If Rancière begins, therefore, on the acknowledgement that Mallarmé is a diffi- cult poet, it is in order to declare that what is dic ffi ult about this poet is appreciating the political task Mallarmé sets himself. That task is to inspect the possibilities of imagining new forms of social community. “Imagining” is not quite the right word, however, and Rancière would probably reject the criticism that literary visions of a new polity can only be experiments in idealism—literary fantasies, not exercises in real- world

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 12, 2013

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