Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
The title of Mallarmé’s Divagations might be translated as “ramblings” and serves to unite a varied series of prose pieces presenting both literary history and criticism. In bringing together a number of pieces, some of which were previously published elsewhere, Mallarmé sought to recognize the foremost poets and artists of his time.
The first to be recognized is appropriately Baudelaire. In “Autrefois, en marge d’ un Baudelaire” (“Formerly, on the Margin of a Baudelaire”), Mallarmé recognized the intense poetic inspiration and use of nature imagery that had influenced his own early work. After this a series of essays, “Quelques médaillons et portraits en pied” (“A Few Medallions and Full-Length Portraits”) describes the lives and work of poets and artists Mallarmé admired. The first is his good friend Auguste, comte de Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, followed by Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud. The list continues to include English-language poets Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Poe and concludes with the painters John McNeill Whistler, Édouard Manet, and Berthe Morisot.
After this literary and artistic section, Mallarmé turns to the theater with an essay on Richard Wagner. Mallarmé especially admired Wagner for combining the arts of music and theater. Next, a series of essays, “Crayonné au théâtre” (“Jottings at the Theater”), analyzes the nature of this public form of literary expression with special...
(The entire section is 348 words.)
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