In 1864 he is a young poet aged 22 who admires Baudelaire. In his mind, poetry transcends words to reach emotion. His primary target is the theater, that spoken literature that allows the juxtaposition of rhythms and sounds.
Two projects are conceived simultaneously. Hérodiade is the myth of an ancient clash of civilizations. L'Après Midi d'un Faune is the pretext for an ode to the nymphs. When he starts Hérodiade a few months before working on the Faune, he already appreciates that perfection is impossible but he definitely desires to reach it.
The refusal of the Faune by the Théâtre Français is logical in its time and should still be understandable now. Mallarmé is too abstract to convince that his literary work is actually an absolute art. He soon abandoned the idea of theater for poetry but maintained a three-act structure of his Hérodiade.
His metaphysical doubts come in the next years. Inspired by reading Hegel, he becomes materialistic. The poet now expresses the nothingness. The power is provided to the verb. Mallarmé should be a hermetic poet if only his text had a meaning.
Mallarmé worked his Hérodiade from 1864 to 1866 and then in 1887. In May 1898 he restarts with an extended title : 'Les Noces d'Hérodiade. Mystère'. Once again it is in vain : Herodias remains eternally unfinished by the death of her poet on September 9, 1898.
The autograph manuscripts of the successive versions of Hérodiade were bound in one volume although the sizes of the pages are dissimilar. This book prophetic for a new trend in French poetry is estimated € 400K for sale by Pierre Bergé et Associés in collaboration with Sotheby's on November 9 in Paris (Drouot), lot 466.
SOLD for € 470K before fees