This is the first English translation of Ranciere's study of the 19th century French poet and critic Stephane Mallarme. In this concise and illuminating study, Jacques Ranciere, one of the world's most popular and influential living philosophers, examines the life and work of the celebrated nineteenth-century French poet and critic, Stephane Mallarme. Ranciere presents Mallarme as neither an aesthete in need of rare essences and unheard-of words, nor the silent and nocturnal thinker of some poem too pure to be written. Mallarme is the contemporary of a republic that is seeking out forms of civic worship to replace the pomp of religions and kings. If his writing is difficult, it is because it complies with a demanding and delicate poetics that is itself responding to an exceptional awareness of the complexity of an historical moment as well as the role that poetry ought to play in it.