One Toss of the Dice: The Incredible Story of How a Poem Made Us Modern

One Toss of the Dice: The Incredible Story of How a Poem Made Us Modern

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The creation and influence of an iconic modernist poem.

In 1897, Stéphane Mallarmé published a 20-page poem in a British magazine, daring in its syntax, typography, and spatial design.

In French and a translation by poet J.D. McClatchy, “One Toss of the Dice” appears in a central section of this volume.

Like others among his contemporaries—including Verlaine, Valéry, Baudelaire, Whistler, Manet, Dégas, and Renoir—Mallarmé sought ways to reinvent and invigorate art.

This was the poem that, in the 1920s, long after Mallarmé’s apparently obscure death, compelled T. S. Eliot to recognize that ‘every battle this French poet fought with syntax represents the effort to transmit lead into gold, ordinary language into poetry.’ And the rest of Mr. Bloch’s beautifully clear book explains How a Poem Made Us Modern. - Richard Howard