Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

December 1991


Published in Nineteenth-Century French Studies, XX, 1-2, Fall-Winter 1991-92. Copyright (c) 1992 University of Nebraska Press. Used by permission.


Mallarmé et la mode is clearly a fundamental contribution to the literature surrounding La Derniére mode. Yet the book's importance goes beyond its stated subject because, quite simply, La Derniére mode is more than an isolated instance of mediocrity. The project was interrupted too early to have acquired a unique character and its editorial devenir has yet to be established. Moreover, following on the heals of “Toast funebre," the magazine helped inaugurate Mallarme's arrival in Paris and the widening of interests that would have a profound effect on his poetry. Under the spell of Mallarme himself in a way that it no longer is with Flaubert or with Proust, our thinking that an understanding of his life has little to do with our understanding of his texts has caused us to neglect the crucial decade of the 1870s from which Mallarmé emerged as an unsurpassed public icon of artistic value. Avoiding the many sacred cows in Mallarmé studies, Mallarmé et la mode will be a key text in the critical reexamination of Mallarmé's public writing.