27. Stéphane Mallarmé. Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard: poème. (1897)
Paris: Nouvelle Revue Franæais, 1914. First edition. One of 90 copies.
Rare Book Collection Folio.

Stéphane Mallarmé's poem, the title of which translates as "A throw of dice will never abolish chance," is seen by many scholars as the single poem that opened the floodgates to all visual poetry of the twentieth century. The poem itself is concerned with the impossibility of singular meaning in action or thought, postulating that all meaning is infinitely permutable. Accordingly, the visual layout of the poem refuses to settle on any singular convention of typeface, size, or position, instead chaotically sprawling across the page. Indeed, the placement, weight, and visual design of each word may as well have been determined by rolling dice ü a method of indeterminacy in composition that would notably be embraced by musician John Cage some 50 years later.

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