Notes For “Anatole’s Tomb”

At university, I was blessed with a range of extraordinary and inspirational tutors.  One of my favourites was Professor Patrick McGuinness, who encouraged – perhaps since he’s also a poet – nonlinear thinking, making of connections, and explorations.  I was particularly struck and moved by his analysis of Mallarme’s Pour Un Tombeau D’Anatole – “210 sheets of pencilled notes towards a poem about the death of [his son] Anatole”.  He subsequently translated the work.  In 2002, a section of McGuinness’ translation was published in the LRB, along with brief notes.  Having recently becoming a parent (with “Anatole” on the baby-naming shortlist…), I wanted to re-read it.  It still shatters, moves, uplifts me, because of rather than despite its broken form, and I encourage you to read it.

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