The leading poet of French symbolism, Stéphane Mallarmé has exercised an enormous influence both on French and on English and American avant-garde writers. In this volume C. F. MacIntyre has translated forty-three of his poems, including the "Ouverture" and "Scène" from Hérodiade, which was to have been a drama in verse, and the well-known L'Après-midi d'un faune, for which Debussy composed his orchestral prelude. The French text faces the English translations, which are both true to the original and poetic.
Indeed, as MacIntyre suggests, Debussy is probably "one of the best guides into the mysterious realm of Mallarmé." The poet was more concerned with the music of words, their sounds and vague associations, than with their conventional meanings; one of the elements in his credo was that suggestion and evocation are of greater significance than statement. His syntax is fractious, his meaning frequently enigmatic; but the reader will find MacIntyre's notes helpful in savoring the translations and the original French verses.