Malcolm, Mallarmé and Music

Paragraph 32 (2):129-139 (2009)
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Starting with a very brief account of the way language's relation to music was conceived before the nineteenth century, Malcolm Bowie's relation to music is considered by close textual analysis of two passages from his work on Mallarmé. I argue that it is through reference to music that Bowie is able to suggest non-closure even in Mallarmé’s use of the archetypal closed form, the sonnet; and through reference to music that Mallarmé’s non-trivial triviality can be handled in a new way. Bowie doesn't posture or postulate through a dialectics, nor stay still by stationary even-handedness. In his way of writing, the reader is neither fired up nor sedated: he or she has to react to muted mini-dramas, which break out in each sentence but which are contained in a clearly directed tone of scholarly criticism.



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