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Mallarmé, Le Livre

Klaus Scherübel
Artists' Books
Paper Book Cover

“Everything in the world exists in order to end up in a book.” – Mallarme

Throughout the last thirty years of his life, French poet Stéphane Mallarmé (1842 – 1889) was engaged with a “wonderful work,” that he simply called The Book (Le Livre). He envisioned The Book as a cosmic text-architecture: an extremely flexible structure that would reveal nothing short of “all existing relations between everything.” This “Grand Oeuvre,” wholly freed from the subjectivity of its author and containing the sum of all books was, for Mallarmé, the essence of all literature and at the same time a “very ordinary” book. The realization of this “pure” work that he planned to publish in a bestseller edition never progressed beyond its conception and a detailed analysis of structural and material questions relating to publication and presentation. Yet to Mallarmé, The Book, which was to found the “true cult of the modern era,” was by no means a failure. “It happens on its own,” he explained of The Book’s unique action in one of his final statements.”

In Mallarmé, The Book Scherübel acts as both editor and preserver of Mallarmé’s forgotten masterpiece. In a gesture that highlights The Book’s contradictory status as both impossible to realize (as a book) and fully realized (as a conceptual work), Scherübel produced a “cover” for The Book in the dimensions specified by Mallarmé more than one hundred years ago. Mallarmé, The Book bears all the hallmarks of an ordinary dust jacket, including an ISBN and a back cover text. This dust jacket wraps around a block of white styrofoam. The new French translation follows on Mallarmé, The Book, published by Printed Matter Inc., NY, USA, and Mallarmé, Das Buch, published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, in 2001.

  1. Mallarmé, Le Livre

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