Stéphane Mallarmé, a French poet, became one of the most important masters of French symbolism, a nineteenth-century movement in poetry that stressed impressions and moods rather than descriptions of reality (Online).The poetry of Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, and others strongly affected Mallarmé's writing (Online).He used symbolism to represent human emotions to make his poems unclear, thus avoiding direct communication with his readers (Online & World Book 110,111).
Mallarmé was born in Paris on March 18, 1842 (Online).After his mother died when he was seven years old, his grandmother became his parental role model.His education included upper-class boarding schools where he often felt out of place because of his middle class background.When he was fifteen, the death of his younger sister, Maria, greatly influenced his poetic development.He turned from Romantic lyricism to much more morbid subjects like Baudelaire's Les fleurs du mal.In 1860, he received his baccalaureate degree from a "lycee" in Sens.After an apprenticeship in the Registry's office, in 1862 he had hisfirst sonnet published in Le papillon, a literary journal.In 1862 Mallarmé married Maria Gerhard and became a teacher in Tournon.
The difficult duties of teaching often interrupted his poetic work and thoughts.Although his students made fun of him, Mallarmé was not discouraged and continued his writing.After translating Edgar Allan Poe's English poems into French, Mallarmé's chief influence became Poe rather than Baudelaire.He began to compose long imaginative poems and a prose poem called Herodiade, the biblical story of Salome who caused John the Baptist's murder.Then he wrote his best-known poem L'Après-midi d'un faune (Afternoon of a Faun), which explores the difference between reality and fantasy (World…

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