Afternoons and Fauns

Why is it when you see something for the first time, you are suddenly inundated with more of them? This week quite by accident I ran into this video of Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun, which I had never heard before, and posted it on Facebook. (This is nice to play in the background while doing other things.)

Then, last night I was reading an introduction to French poetry, and discovered that the poet Stéphane Mallarmé also wrote a poem called L’Apres-midi d’un Faune, the original “Afternoon of a Faun” that inspired all the rest of them.  Mallarmé’s original poem is published with drawings by Manet.  French here, English translation here, description of poem at wiki. Briefly, the faun falls asleep and dreams of nymphs. Then Mallarmé writes his poem, French poet Paul Valéry calls it the greatest poem in French literature, and it becomes a landmark in the history of French symbolism. Then Debussy writes his orchestration, followed by several ballets by Vaslav Nijinsky and others, which become of great significance in the development of modernism.

I don’t think I’m in the mood for it after all.

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