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Stéphane Mallarmé

A Roll of the Dice

A Roll of the Dice

By Stéphane Mallarmé, Translated by Jeff Clark and Robert Bononno

  • Previously only available in hardcover, and after a long period of being unavailable, one of Wave's most popular titles, A Roll of the Dice by Stéphane Mallarmé, is now available in paperback.

    Through brilliant collaboration, Robert Bononno and book designer Jeff Clark translated one of Mallarmé’s most well-known and visually complex poems into contemporary English language and design. This bilingual softcover edition not only includes Mallarmé's original preface, but also matches the typography of the last round of proofs that Mallarmé was correcting at the time of his death. Clark's presentation is both visually stunning and typographically radical, mirroring the dark mystery of Mallarmé’s poem. With a keen understanding of poetics, Bononno’s translation offers myriad interpretations, while capturing the visionary spirit of the original. Together, Clark and Bononno have created a singular version of A Roll of the Dice that is markedly unique in its attention to the ways layout, design, typeface, and language all contribute to the meaning making of this masterpiece.

  • Read an interview with Bononno and Clark about A Roll of the Dice at Poetry Society of America
  • “Un Coup de Dés,” Mallarmé’s climactic experiment… is available in a slender, handsome volume from the Seattle press Wave Books, in a fine translation by Jeff Clark and Robert Bononno. Here, Mallarmé leapfrogs over the most radical exponents of free verse: a text of seven hundred and fourteen words is scattered across eleven double pages, in staggered lines and in type of varying sizes, often with independent sentences juxtaposed… The layout evokes musical notation, with voices rising and falling amid expectant silences.
    Alex Ross, The New Yorker

    Great translations must do more than imitate: they must take great risks, as this gorgeous and important book clearly does.
    Jeremy Glazier, Los Angeles Review of Books

    The final product of Clark and Bononno’s labors is a vindication of books whose physicality and materiality have something to say....Mallarmé’s poem, and Clark and Bononno’s amazing rendering of it, confronts questions of the possibility of totality in art...
    Cosmos Pappas, The Michigan Daily

    Poet and book designer Clark (Music and Suicide) and prolific translator Bononno produce a fine contemporary English to match the dazzle of Mallarmé's French. But their real claim to attention is the physical, typographical form of the book...
    Publishers Weekly

    This book in particular involves translation not only from French into English, but from Language into Design (and the other way around), and the result is not only aesthetically moving, but inventive, and infinitely pleasurable. 
    Martin Rock, Gulf Coast

    Jeff Clark and Robert Bononno's new edition from Wave resuscitate the poem as something living, breathing, and as definitive as possible.
    Simon Crafts, The Improbable

    This relatively short volume (the present edition, the first since 2004, which was the first ever to be produced according to Mallarmé’s specifications, runs to little over 60 pages, including both an English translation and a facsimile of the French) is a study as much in space as it is sound, in silence as much as in speech. It is a meticulously deliberate meditation on the possibilities of these elements of poetry, performed long before this idea became a cliché.
    Jack Hanson, The Quarterly Conversation

    All in all, it is a pleasure reading a new interpretation of Mallarmé's most influential poem, an interpretation which excites both the imagination and the intellect.
    Richard Henry, Rain Taxi

  • Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) was a French poet whose diverse works are considered precursors to key radical tendencies in 20th-century poetry and theory. He held salons in Paris whose regular visitors included W.B. Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Valéry, Paul Verlaine, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and many others. At the time of his death, Mallarmé was correcting proofs for the Vollard edition of Un Coup de Dés (A Roll of the Dice), which was to be the work’s first publication in book form, illustrated by Odilon Redon and printed by Firmin-Didot; the project was abandoned shortly after the poet’s death.

    Jeff Clark is the author of Ruins and Music and Suicide (winner of the James Laughlin Award), among other works, and has made his living as a book designer for nearly thirty years. He is the designer for Wave Books. His studio, Crisis, is based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he also does some community organizing and radical publishing.

    Robert Bononno has been a freelance translator from French for more than twenty years. He was an adjunct professor in New York University’s Translation Studies program and at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Bononno is credited with the translation of over a dozen full-length books and numerous shorter pieces, including René Crevel’s My Body and I, a finalist for the 2005 French-American Foundation Prize.

Publication Month: April 2024

ISBN# 9781950268948 (7.25x10.5 96pp, softcover)

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN# 9781940696041 (7.25x10.5 96pp, trade hardcover)

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