The next chapter turns to vocabulary to demonstrate that, while Mallarmé has a reputation for difficulty, this is not based on the use of esoteric words. In fact rare and archaic words appear less frequently in the poetry than in Mallarmé's prose. When unusual words are used, it is often for special emphasis or effect. An archaic word turns the reader's attention to the past and away from the everyday present while unexpected mixing of levels of language or of areas of reference can produce a comic effect. A special study of the uses of the word "ordinaire" and its synonyms shows how, by using such terms instead of simply naming ordinary objects, Mallarmé seems to categorize and thus limit them. A chapter on metaphor retains the feel of the doctoral dissertation with an obligatory survey of definitions of metaphor. An analysis of Mallarmé's metaphors reveals both close affinities with Baudelaire and numerous uses of verbal or adverbial elements. Mallarmé's complex linkages situate even the ordinary objects he works with in a personal, poetic world that departs from everyday perceptions, but contrary to those who would find Mallarmé's poetry difficult, Stafford finds many of the images there conventional
Nineteenth Century French Studies – University of Nebraska Press
Published: May 12, 2003
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