For Anatole's Tomb

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For Anatole's Tomb
AuthorStéphane Mallarmé
Original titlePour un tombeau d'Anatole
TranslatorPaul Auster
Patrick McGuinness
PublisherÉditions du Seuil
Publication date
Published in English

For Anatole's Tomb (French: Pour un tombeau d'Anatole) is an unfinished poem by the French writer Stéphane Mallarmé. It is also known as A Tomb for Anatole. It was written after the death of Mallarmé's son Anatole. The finished fragments were published in 1961.

Writing process[edit]

In 1879, the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé's eight-year-old son Anatole died. Mallarmé had previously written a "tomb" ("tombeau") poem after the death of Edgar Allan Poe, and would later write tombeaux for Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine. The aim of the tombeaux genre was not only to mourn, but also in a certain way to eternalize the dead person by means of the poem.[1] He started working on a "tomb" poem about his dead son, but it was never finished before Mallarmé himself died in 1898. Left were 202 sheets of fragmentary notes.[2]


The finished material was published as Pour un tombeau d'Anatole in 1961 through Éditions du Seuil, with an introduction by Jean-Pierre Richard.[2] An English translation by the American author Paul Auster was published in 1983, with the title A Tomb for Anatole. A new translation by Patrick McGuinness, with the title For Anatole's Tomb, was published in 2003, and was selected as the year's Translation Choice by the Poetry Book Society.[3]


Will Stone reviewed the book in The Guardian in 2003, and called it "an honest, unaffected work", which "can be read with equal satisfaction by both an admirer of Mallarmé and someone who has read little or nothing of the poet before". Stone continued: "This collection has a curious intimacy and poignancy. It is hard to believe that these poem shards were written well over 100 years ago, since they seem so contemporary and accessible, despite any initial obscurity. The translation is careful but confident, finding the right balance between faithfulness to the French and sustaining a creative thrust in English."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Stone, Will (2003-10-04). "Fury against the formless". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-29.
  2. ^ a b Staff writer (2003-05-17). "From For Anatole's Tomb by Stéphane Mallarmé". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-29.
  3. ^ Staff writer (2011-07-27). "Man Booker: Seren's Patrick McGuinness makes longlist". BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved 2012-02-29.