Stéphane Mallarmé. Poetry is music above all.

Mallarmé. Lettre autographe inédite


Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), frensh poet. Autograph letter signed “Stéphane Mallarmé “, Paris, 29 th April 1888, to “Monsieur ” [Ernest Lefeuve]. 4 pp. in-12 watermarked paper “Original stair’s mill ».     

Very beautiful unpublished letter in which the poet expresses his conception of poetic art: Music first, beyond schools.

Mallarmé. Lettre inédite sur la poésie.

Mallarmé thanks Ernest Lefeuve for sending his Poésies familières.

 “I am particularly sensitive to your sending; and that you believed in my interest in all that is the verses, or the old and dear form of poetry so far; outside, as you expressed it, school issues. Are there even any? I figure it’s poems like perfumes, fabrics, some subtle and rich; and others […] that, to present a less rarefied fabric or aroma, don’t miss out on a daily job, like tendering and perfume the place of all our hours. Everything exists, as long as it sings […] He compliments him for his opus, and especially “your poem Réminiscence, where the pattern develops nicely “.

Mallarmé. Lettre autographe inédite sur la poésie.

These lines are to be compared to the famous ” I make Music he’ll write to Edmund Gosse on 10 January 1893, as well as the disclaimer by François Coppée in his Anthologie des Poètes français du XIXth century  published the same year as our letter : “When so many contemporaries paint with words, here’s a poet who uses it to make music.” (ed. Lemerre, 1888, vol. III, p. 47).

Mallarmé taught at Condorcet High School (then Fontanes) since 1871. Ernest Lefeuve, then in rhetoric, young poet, was one of the founders of 1882 literary club “Les Moineaux Francs ” whose members, all poets and high school students, admired the great Parnassians, Hugo, Hérédia, Leconte de Lisle and Sully Prudhomme; in 1883, they founded the newspaper Le Fou, periodic 4 pages dedicated to their poems. Did they then benefit from Mallarmé’s advice, famous poet, who was not to leave Condorcet until 1884? Anyway, the school administration did not appreciate the publication of the newspaper and the headmaster forbidden its circulation in the school. The Poésies familières published by Alcan-Lévy five years later, was well received: “This is a poet’s book! Everything is varied, natural, spontaneous, unpretentious, and with a delicate or vigorous feeling. In all notes, whether he celebrates Crispin or tender love, heroism or roses, the author is a poet. And, sometimes, there is true beauty” (Charles Fuster, L’Année des poètes).

Marginal hole to close the letter with a silk ribbon.

Not in the recent Correspondance 1854-1898, published by Gallimard, in the collection nrf, in 2019. Exceptional document.


Mallarmé. Lettre autographe inédite sur la poésie.

13 000 €