The influence of photography and visual culture on the French poet, journalist, and critic.
Countering the conventional image of the deliberately obscure "ivory-tower poet," Frameworks for Mallarmé presents Stéphane Mallarmé as a journalist and critic who was actively engaged with the sociocultural and technological shifts of his era. Gayle Zachmann introduces a writer whose aesthetic was profoundly shaped by contemporary innovations in print and visual culture, especially the nascent art of photography. She analyzes the preeminence of the visual in conjunction with Mallarmé's quest for "scientific" language, and convincingly links the poet's production to a nineteenth-century understanding of cognition that is articulated in terms of optical perception. The result is a distinctly modern recuperation of the Horatian doctrine of ut pictura poesis in Mallarmé's poetry and his circumstantial writings.
Gayle Zachmann is Director of the University of Florida's Paris Research Center and Associate Professor of French at the University of Florida.
"…fascinating and beautifully written … Frameworks for Mallarmé is a model of rich interdisciplinary scholarship … it makes a valuable contribution to Mallarmé studies while appealing to general audiences interested in literature, art history, history, media studies, photography, psychology, and nineteenth-century European studies. " — Romanic Review
"…Zachmann takes as her methodological approach an original and productive stance, that of situating Stéphane Mallarmé quite squarely into the cultural context of his time … Zachmann's study provides today's students and scholars of Mallarmé an appreciation and analysis of his poetic art from a fresh and inclusive critical point of view. " — French Review
"…Zachmann sets out to reveal how deeply embedded in Mallarmé's theorizing and practice intermedial thinking was, and to do so by exploring his participation in, and responses to, the economic and intellectual context … This approach turns out to be remarkably fruitful. " — French Studies
"Zachmann's work represents a truly excellent cultural and literary analysis of Mallarmé as a poet very much of his time, in tune both with the technological innovations and aesthetic ramifications of the art of photography and with the strategic innovations of the impressionist painters, who, like contemporary photographers, placed great emphasis on perception. By situating Mallarmé within his aesthetic cultural context, Zachmann succeeds in shedding convincing light on some of his more 'obscure' writings and also in presenting a compelling total portrait of Mallarmé as an artist whose aesthetic vision remained remarkably consistent throughout his life. " — Katharine Conley, author of Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvelous in Everyday Life