Re-Orienting the fête galante in Mallarmé’s éventails

This article situates Mallarmé’s éventails within the fête galante tradition pioneered by Watteau and identifies a link between the neo-rococo and japoniste aesthetics in these poems. It begins by identifying the folding fan’s unique position at the boundary of the two styles within a discussion of Mallarmé’s fashion writing in La Dernière Mode. It moves on to consider in detail a number of the shorter, little-studied éventails of the Vers de circonstance focusing on the ways in which they engage with both aesthetics via neo-rococo textual imagery and japoniste paratextual imagery before concluding with a brief comparison of Mallarmé’s éventails with Verlaine’s Fêtes galantes that underlines the novelty of Mallarmé’s approach to the genre. Throughout, it references the rich visual tradition of the fête galante including some of Watteau’s painted works as well as some of the fans upon which Mallarmé inscribed his verse.  

Erin E. Edgington
Volume 44.1-2