La ballerine illettrée: transformations of the feminine in Mallarmé's sance writings

Hélène Stafford

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


Stéphane Mallarmé's texts on dance criticism occupy a prominent place in
dance literature. They have also been of major interest to the Mallarme
specialists who have seen in them the key to a greater understanding of the
whole of his work. In this article I determine how his dance writings can be
interpreted in the context of the whole of the œuvre, including for example
the women's magazine he wrote and produced, La Dernière Mode. I
establish to what extent the female presence in Mallarmé's poetry tends
towards metaphors, women's bodies absent or negated by the gaze of the
poet. As the poet responds to the stimulus of the dance, he divests the
female dancer of her womanly characteristics, recasting her in his own
imagination both as feminine principle and incarnation of 'l'Idée', and also
as mythical being, 'au-delà de toute vie possible', a composite of other
female characters inhabiting his œuvre, constantly poised between presence
and absence, stillness and movement, a locus for a precarious balance which
is endlessly re-enacted in own writing practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSur quel pied danser? Danse et littérature
Subtitle of host publicationActes du colloque avril 2003, Lincoln College, Oxford
EditorsEdward Nye
Place of PublicationAmsterdam (NL)
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-012-0114-8
ISBN (Print)90-420-16080-6, 978-90-420-1608-8
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2005

Bibliographical note

Actes du colloque organisé par Hélène Stafford, Michael Freeman et Edward Nye en avril 2003 à Lincoln College, Oxford


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