Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard (Mallarmé)

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Autograph layout (1896).

Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance) is a poem by the French Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé. Its intimate combination of free verse and unusual typographic layout anticipated the 20th century interest in graphic design and concrete poetry.


The poem was written by Mallarmé in 1897 and published in May of that same year in the magazine Cosmopolis, but was published in book form only in 1914, 16 years after the author's death, based on his extensive notes and exacting instructions.[1][2] The first edition was printed on July 10, 1914 by the Imprimerie Sainte Catherine at Bruges, in a private 60-copy issue.[1]

In 2015, Wave Books published A Roll of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance, a definitive dual-language edition of the poem, translated by Robert Bononno and Jeff Clark (designer).

The poem[edit]

The poem is spread over 20 pages, in various typefaces, amidst liberal amounts of blank space. Each pair of consecutive facing pages is to be read as a single panel; the text flows back and forth across the two pages, along irregular lines.

The sentence that names the poem is split into three parts, printed in large capital letters on panels 1, 6, and 8. A second textual thread in smaller capitals apparently begins on the right side of panel 1, QUAND MÊME LANCÉ DANS DES CIRCONSTANCES ÉTERNELLES DU FOND D'UN NAUFRAGE ("Even when thrown under eternal circumstances from the bottom of a shipwreck"). Other interlocking threads in various typefaces start throughout the book. At the bottom right of the last panel is the sentence Toute Pensée émet un Coup de Dés ("Every Thought issues a Throw of Dice").[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard (PDF). Librairie Gallimard (copyright by Nouvelle Revue Française). July 1914. p. 24. 
  2. ^ Broodthaers (1970); quoted in Forum, Barcelona

External links[edit]

  • Version adapted to be read on a computer screen [1].
  • [2] contains a rendition of Un coup de dés by Michael Maranda
  • [3] contains three renditions of Un coup de dés by Eric Zboya.