Sims Reed Rare Books×

Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard. Poème

Mallarme, Stéphane

Paris. Editions de la Nouvelle Revue Française. 1914
A large paper copy, completely unsophisticated, of the first edition of Stéphane Mallarmé's revolutionary innovative typographic caprice.

From the edition limited to 100 numbered large paper copies, with this one of 90 on vélin d'Arches; 10 hors commerce copies - also large paper - on papier pur chanvre des papeteries de Monval were also issued as well as an unnumbered edition of 900 copies in smaller format on vergé.

In 1914, Stéphane Mallarmé’s ambitious typographical construction, the extraordinary poem, 'Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard: Poème', was finally published - in the form that Mallarmé had himself envisaged - by Gallimard's 'Editions de laNouvelle Revue Française'. A version had appeared during Mallarmé's lifetime, in 1897, in 'La Revue Cosmopolis' but the title aside, Mallarmé's vision for the poem - refused by printers at the time as unfeasible and absurd - was ignored; Ambroise Vollard's proposed edition illustrated by Odilon Redon never appeared. The original edition of 1914, seen through the press by Mallarmé's son-in-law, Edmond Bonniot, was printed as a limited edition in Belgium in 1,000 copies, 100 large paper examples and 900 ordinary copies (the ordinary copies unmentioned on the justification).

The poem itself is a typographical caprice and a visual object of linguistic power that preceded Apollinaire's calligrammes by more than a decade. In Mallarmé's own words, taken from his introductory 'Préface': 'les «blancs» en effet, assument l’importance, frappent d’abord ; la versification... occupe, au milieu, le tiers environ du feuillet … '.

'It seemed to me that I was looking at the form and pattern of a thought, placed for the first time in finite space. Here space itself truly spoke, dreamed, and gave birth to temporal forms.' (Paul Valéry on Mallarmé's 'Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira le Hasard: Poème').

'C'est un fou qui a écrit ça !' (The director of the printing house Didot in response to Vollard's idea of printing the text in Mallarmé's desired form).

In the present copy, the glue adhering the text block to the japon wraper has decayed and the text block is therefore loose; a previous owner has inserted a small slip of thin paper with a typewritten note with the admonition: 'Ne jamais gommer la couverture, parce que le papier Japon dont elle est formée s'effilocherait.' (Do not ever glue the cover because the Japan paper from which it is made will fray). The note also gives an appreciation of the edition of this copy: 'Edition originale: rare, précieuse et chère.'
[16 unnumbered leaves]. Folio. (330 x 257 mm). Blank leaf, printed title, leaf with Mallarmé's 'Préface' and note by the editor verso, blank leaf, leaf with title 'UN COUP DE DES' and Mallarmé's verse recto and verso in his preferred typographic layout on 10 leaves, final leaf with justification and achevé d'imprimer; leaves uncut retaining deckle edges throughout. Original publisher's japon wrappers with printed titles in red and black to front cover and publisher's vignette in black to rear.

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