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Mallarmé and the Politics of Literature

Sartre, Kristeva, Badiou, Rancière

Robert Boncardo

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Recounts the radical readings of Mallarmé’s seminal poems by some of France’s most important 20th century thinkers

Why is Stéphane Mallarmé, one of modernity’s most ingenious yet obscure poets, so important to French philosophers? With in-depth studies of Jean-Paul Sartre, Julia Kristeva, Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière, along with shorter analyses of Jean-Claude Milner and Quentin Meillassoux, Boncardo situates Mallarmé within these thinkers' philosophical and political projects.

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Series Editor’s Preface

Introduction: Comrade Mallarmé

  1. Jean-Paul Sartre’s Mallarmé: Hero of an Ontological Drama, Agent of the Counter-revolution
  2. Julia Kristeva’s Mallarmé: From Fetishism to the Theatre-Book
  3. Alain Badiou’s Mallarmé: From the Structural Dialectic to the Poetry of the Event
  4. Jean-Claude Milner’s Mallarmé: Nothing Has Taken Place
  5. Jacques Rancière’s Mallarmé: Deferring Equality

Conclusion: From One Siren to Another



About the Author

Robert Boncardo is Tutor in the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sydney. He completed his doctorate in French Studies at the University of Sydney and Aix-Marseille Université.


The name Mallarmé has become a tool for the praise and condemnation of poetry. In French philosophy, he is associated with the intoxicating idea of poetry as politically efficacious, and the counter-charge of effete elitism. In this lively and impressive re-telling, we see how this poet becomes a magnet for a stunning cascade of delirious praise and vilification. Robert Boncardo convincingly shows that despite the insights of the French obsession with Mallarmé, we need new ways to formulate the links between politics and literature.

- Alison Ross, Monash University

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