Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–98) was a French Symbolist poet, theorist, and teacher whose ideas and legendary salons set the stage for twentieth-century experimentation in poetry, music, theater and art. A canonical figure in the legacy of modernism, Mallarmé was also a lifelong champion of the book as both a literary endeavor and a carefully crafted material object.
In The Book as Instrument, Anna Sigrídur Arnar explores how this object functioned for Mallarmé and his artistic circle, arguing that the book became a strategic site for encouraging a modern public to actively partake in the creative act, an idea that informed later twentieth-century developments such as conceptual and performance art. Arnar demonstrates that Mallarmé was invested in creating radically empowering reading experiences, and the diverse modalities he proposed for both reading and looking anticipate interactive media prevalent in today’s culture. In describing the world of books, visual culture, and mass media of the late nineteenth century, Arnar touches upon an array of themes that continues to preoccupy us in our own moment, including speculations on the future of the book. Enhanced by gorgeous illustrations, The Book as Instrument is sure to fascinate anyone interested in the ever-vibrant experiment between word and image that makes the page and the multi-sensory pleasures of reading.
Between present and past, visible and invisible, and sensation and idea, there is resonance—so philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty argued and so Jessica Wiskus explores in The Rhythm of Thought. Holding the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé, the paintings of Paul Cézanne, the prose of Marcel Proust, and the music of Claude Debussy under Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological light, she offers innovative interpretations of some of these artists’ masterworks, in turn articulating a new perspective on Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy.
More than merely recovering Merleau-Ponty’s thought, Wiskus thinks according to it. First examining these artists in relation to noncoincidence—as silence in poetry, depth in painting, memory in literature, and rhythm in music—she moves through an array of their artworks toward some of Merleau-Ponty’s most exciting themes: our bodily relationship to the world and the dynamic process of expression. She closes with an examination of synesthesia as an intertwining of internal and external realms and a call, finally, for philosophical inquiry as a mode of artistic expression. Structured like a piece of music itself, The Rhythm of Thought offers new contexts in which to approach art, philosophy, and the resonance between them.
It is the reading world's good fortune that Stéphane Mallarmé's letters survived, allowing later generations an intimate look at the inner life of one of Europe's most important poets. Mallarmé (1842-98), often called the father of the Symbolists, has had an immense influence on the development of modern European poetry. It was his ambition to create a poetry pure of quotidian reality—autonomous, concentrated, linguistically inventive. His correspondence documents the evolution of this aim, the crafting of a poetics out of a life inescapably "real" in its pains and charms.
Beginning in the late nineteenth century, French visual artists began incorporating Japanese forms into their work. The style, known as Japonisme, spanned the arts.
Identifying a general critical move from a literal to a more metaphoric understanding and presentation of Japonisme, Pamela A. Genova applies a theory of "aesthetic translation" to a broad response to Japanese aesthetics within French culture. She crosses the borders of genre, field, and form to explore the relationship of Japanese visual art to French prose writing of the mid- to late 1800s. Writing Japonisme focuses on the work of Edmond de Goncourt, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Émile Zola, and Stéphane Mallarmé as they witnessed, incorporated, and participated in an unprecedented cultural exchange between France and Japan, as both creators and critics. Genova’s original research opens new perspectives on a fertile and influential period of intercultural dynamics.
George P. McClelland, a member of the 155th Pennsylvania Infantry in the Civil War, witnessed some of the war’s most pivotal battles during his two and a half years of Union service. Death and destruction surrounded this young soldier, who endured the challenges of front line combat in the conflict Lincoln called “the fiery trial through which we pass.” Throughout his time at war, McClelland wrote to his family, keeping them abreast of his whereabouts and aware of the harrowing experiences he endured in battle. Never before published, McClelland’s letters offer fresh insights into camp life, battlefield conditions, perceptions of key leaders, and the mindset of a young man who faced the prospect of death nearly every day of his service. Through this book, the detailed experiences of one soldier—examined amidst the larger account of the war in the eastern theater—offer a fresh, personal perspective on one of our nation’s most brutal conflicts.
Your Brother in Arms follows McClelland through his Civil War odyssey, from his enlistment in Pittsburgh in the summer of 1862 and his journey to Washington and march to Antietam, followed by his encounters in a succession of critical battles: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania Court House, the North Anna River, Petersburg, and Five Forks, Virginia, where he was gravely injured. McClelland’s words, written from the battlefield and the infirmary, convey his connection to his siblings and his longing for home. But even more so, they reflect the social, cultural, and political currents of the war he was fighting. With extensive detail, Robert C. Plumb expounds on McClelland’s words by placing the events described in context and illuminating the collective forces at play in each account, adding a historical outlook to the raw voice of a young soldier.
Beating the odds of Civil War treatment, McClelland recovered from his injury at Five Forks and was discharged as a brevet-major in 1865—a rank bestowed on leaders who show bravery in the face of enemy fire. He was a common soldier who performed uncommon service, and the forty-two documents he and his family left behind now give readers the opportunity to know the war from his perspective.
More than a book of battlefield reports, Your Brother in Arms: A Union Soldier’s Odyssey is a volume that explores the wartime experience through a soldier’s eyes, making it an engaging and valuable read for those interested in American history, the Civil War, and military history.