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Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry

Volume 7, Issue 16, Fall 2011

Johanna Drucker
Pages 1-13

Stéphane Mallarmé’s Un Coup de Dés and the Poem and/as Book as Diagram

Modern poetics takes one crucial turn through Ezra Pound’s notion of the “ideogram,” a concept that had a lasting impact through the Imagists and their influence. The ideogram borrows from Pound’s ideas about Chinese characters, their ability to condense complex representation into a figured form in an economic but resonant image. By contrast, the compositional technique embodied in French poet Stéphane Mallarmé’s unique work, Un Coup de Dés, can be characterized as “diagrammatic,” driven by semantic relations expressed spatially in a distributed field. This essay explores that diagrammatic work and it implications as a compositional technique.

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