Academic journal article Nineteenth-Century French Studies

Meillassoux, Quentin. le Nombre et la Sirene. Un Dechiffrage Du "Coup De Des" De Mallarme

Academic journal article Nineteenth-Century French Studies

Meillassoux, Quentin. le Nombre et la Sirene. Un Dechiffrage Du "Coup De Des" De Mallarme

Article excerpt

Meillassoux, Quentin. Le Nombre et la sirene. Un dechiffrage du "Coup de des" de Mallarme. Paris: Fayard, 2011. Pp. 249. ISBN: 978-2-213-66591-7

This is, for me, an odd, beautiful, and challenging book as it combines mathematical insights (which I do not feel competent to judge) and a moving, detailed exegesis of this germinai Mallarme masterpiece. The author, who teaches philosophy at the Ecole normale superieure, recognizes basic studies of "Un Coup de des" by the founding generation of interpreters, Charles Chasse, Charles Mauron, Robert Greer Cohn, Lloyd James Austin, with an emphasis on more recent approaches of Mitsou Ronat, Jacques Roubaud, Nikolaj D'Origny Lubecker, and of course Bertrand Marchal (in addition to Sartre, Blanchot, Jacques Ranciere, Alain Badiou, and specialists in French versification). The key.premise is that encrypted in the Mallarme poem is a deliberate numerical code, equal to the number of words, and that this hidden structure con firms the poet's ambition to create a "Book" (the famous "Grand (Euvre") that would establish a civil religion analogous to, but replacing, the Christian paradigm (see esp. 28-29, 104).

Yet, it would not be fair to limit this brief review to content. The author carefully guides readers on an elegant and meticulous hermeneutical adventure in two stages: Part I, "Crypter le nombre" (19-96), focuses on the numbers, even while admitting "un code, par lui-meme, est chose au fond puerile, quelle qu'en soit la complexite" (16). …

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