Presentation copy of this rare limited first edition of Mallarmé's Hérodiade, rendered in English by Clark Mills and illustrated with an engraving by surrealist Kurt Seligmann.
"Oh, keep your pity with your irony."
This first printing of Mills's verse translation of Mallarmé's Hérodiade builds on the earlier effort of Roger Fry, who wrote: "Mallarmé is so difficult that anything like a perfect translation can only be accomplished by incessant revision and the assistance of many minds. Like the Bible he should be translated only by a Committee." Fry, preserving Mallarmé's syntax, necessarily abandoned his verse structure; Mills attempts a more equal compromise between meaning and spirit, maintaining partial fidelity to both, rendering Mallarmé's Alexandrines in unrhymed English iambic pentameter and providing the original French text on facing pages for the reader's benefit.
The translator, Clark Mills McBurney, was an accomplished poet, leftist, French scholar, and friend of Tennessee Williams, with whom he formed "what we called a 'literary factory' in the basement of [Mills's] suburban home." Who is Clark Mills? Williams wondered aloud, on their first encounter. The reply: "He's the boy that writes crazy modern verse nobody understands but God and Himself!" (Williams, "Return to Dust").
Read more: Tennessee Williams, "Return to Dust"; Hasye Cooperman, The Aesthetics of Stephane Mallarmé
Prairie City, IL: The Press of James A. Decker, (1940). 9'' x 6''. Original grey cloth with grey paper label mounted to front board. No. 28 of 80 numbered copies bound in cloth. Hand-set in Bodoni Book Type and printed on Tru-Colour Text paper. Frontispiece etching by Kurt Seligmann tipped in. Inscribed on front free endpaper: "To Charles Todd / with grateful good wishes from / Clark Mills / April 1941." Cloth sunned at spine and worn at extremities, with some shallow fraying to spine head. Toning to endpapers, else interior clean.
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