Parul Tiwari (Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar)


Parul Tiwari (She/her) is a PhD candidate at the HSS Department, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (India). She has done her MA from the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Her research interests are modernist theatre, French theatre, aesthetic theories, and philosophy. She is currently working on the relationship between writing and antitheatricality with reference to Mallarmé, Artaud, and Beckett.

The Promise of Truth: A Silent Theatre in Mallarmé’s Poetry

This paper makes a case for the theatricality of the poetics of the French poet Stephane Mallarmé, positioning the mode of the manifestation of this theatricality in silence. Mallarmé’s poems are known for their complexity, just as, being a poet, his preference for a reader willing to read difficult poems is well known. As the complexity in modernist poetry arises from polysemy and ineffability, Mallarmé maintains that the reader must participate in the exercise of unfolding the secrets of the mystery of the verse. This mystery of the verse is thus a function of the language. For this reason, in his pure poetry, the impersonal poets shall promise the unfolding of the mystery of the poem through a play of language and not authorial genius. The concept of silence in Mallarmé’s poems has been identified as the trope through which the poet demonstrates that he will keep his promise; that there will be a secret hidden in the mystery of the poem. Thus, silence is the ‘mark’ of the poet’s intervention into the ongoing play of language. It is through the silence of spacing in Coup de dés that he proposes several patterns of reading the poem. In other instances from Divagations, the “mute words” and silent presence of a woman without any musical instruments being played in a town carnival are the elements that are enough to convince the reader/audience of revelation of a truth. In relation to these silent markers of the promise of a truth, Mallarmé rejects the chatter of explanation found in works that are non-poetic. The ideal Mallarméan site where the poet and reader participate in this business of promise- making and believing is the blank page- a site of silence and virginity that he finds similar to the mime. This paper thus explores the play of silence on the ‘stage’ of the blank page as a theatre where writing, as a concept, embodies the theatricality of the promise between poet- reader or poet- audience.