Saturday, January 30, 2010

L'après-midi d'un faune

L'après-midi d'un faune is a poem by the French author Stéphane Mallarmé. It is his best-known work and a landmark in the history of symbolism in French literature. Paul Valéry considered it to be the greatest poem in French literature.

Initial versions of the poem were written between 1865 (the first mention of the poem is found in a letter Mallarmé wrote to Henri Cazalis in June 1865) and 1867, and the final text was published in 1876. It describes the sensual experiences of a faun who has just woken up from his afternoon sleep and discusses his encounters with several nymphs during the morning in a dreamlike monologue.

Mallarmé's poem formed the inspiration for the orchestral work Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune by Claude Debussy and the ballet L'après-midi d'un faune by Vaslav Nijinsky; each of these works would be of great significance in the development of modernism in the arts.