MALLARME'S 'LES NOCES D'HERODIADE, MYSTERE': A PSYCHOANALYTIC READING (FRANCE)
WOLF, MARY ELLEN
Doctor of Philosophy
Although published in 1959, the "Herodiade" manuscript has received very little attention. The purpose of this dissertation is to end this critical silence by a reading of the integral work which consists of some 200 pages of notes, variants and published texts. After a preliminary critique of Mauron's psychocritical reading of Mallarme (in particular his practices of translation, biographical speculation and textual reification), I examine Mallarme's view of the creative process as it appears in his early correspondence. The poet's discussion of productivity, negativity, depersonalization and the writing experience provides a springboard for drawing a number of striking analogies with Freud's theory of the Unconscious and dream interpretation. The focus of the ensuing chapters is on the problematic of creative process as mirrored in the production of the work itself. Chapter III is a reconsideration of Herodiade's narcissistic ego as a fictional construct which duplicates the relationship of the writer to the work. In Chapter IV, a comparison of Mallarme's and Freud's notion of the "uncanny" sets up my analysis of processes of repetition and repression in the textual variants for the "Prelude." A confrontation of the various versions of the "Prelude" demonstrates the persistent influence of covert psychic processes which have camouflaged phantasms of procreation, incest and death in the final draft. Chapter V analyzes how the castration motif in the "Cantique de Saint Jean" works as a metaphor for both the force and failure of textual production. It is by following the perpetual transformation of disruptive and ambivalent elements between variant and text that one finds a psychic economy which opens up "Les Noces d'Herodiade, Mystere" to alternative readings.