By Stéphane Mallarmé
Response by Sam Sampson
Waitakere Ranges, New Zealand: Sam Sampson, 2022.
Edition of 20 (10 boxed; 10 unboxed).
300 x 225 mm; 28 unnumbered pages. Digital Indigo printed on Mohawk archival paper (Ultra White Smooth pages 148gsm and cover 270gsm). Printed by Centurion, Auckland, New Zealand. Die-cut cover. Hand sewn binding with black thread. Hand-bound by Louise James of The Binding Studio in the Waitakere Ranges, West Auckland, New Zealand. Designed by jacindatorrance of Verso Visual Communications, Auckland. Numbered and signed by Sampson.
Copies 1–10 housed in a hinged-lid box with magnetic flap, 35mm outer walls with Chelsea Beige 045 binding cloth (100 percent cotton with pigmented coating) with the ((( Sun-O ))) emblem foiled on the front in white. A black ribbon lifts out each edition. The boxes are lined with ColourPlan Bright Red acid-free paper and feature a different printed design inspired by the original Mallarmé poem and my homage. Each design is digital Indigo white ink and the typeface is DTL Elzevir.
Sam Sampson’s Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard ((( Sun-O ))) was produced in 2022 on the 125th anniversary of the publication of Stéphane Mallarmé’s original poem (1897).
Sam Sampson: "My response takes the form (scaffolding) of measuring each Mallarmé line on the page and approximating the font size. Each of my bullet pointed lines is an approximation of his line and the spatial dimension of the page represents the flow of his work. As Mallarmé’s poem is a form of metaphysical gambling, his sentences reproduce the sensation of being both in and outside time, a type of prismatic subdivision, and I wanted to respond to this rhythm and arrangement of the poem by using the original text such that each of my pages reproduces collaged text from the exact same page of Mallarmé’s poem. The Gallimard manuscript is the source, but it also brings into context a voice, a conversation from 1962 onwards where Roger’s inscription (his name) leaves a mark in time. As with Mallarmé, I wanted the fungibility of time – the timeliness of a toss of the dice and the timelessness of chance. I wanted the poem to somehow capture, as Mallarmé had described it, ‘the invitation of the great white space’, and the successive, incessant, back-and-forth motions of our eyes travelling from one line to the next, and beginning all over again.”
Book collector, blogger and essayist Robert Bolick has published an essay examining Sampson’s Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard ((( Sun-O ))). The full essay can be found on his blog Books on Books
Excerpts from Bolick’s review –
“The references to music and the poem’s demonstration of musicality throughout are also hard to miss, and given its zero point of inception, the poem would be seriously remiss without them. The aim for union of text, sound and graphic image is as central to Sampson’s poem as the manipulation of syntax and les blancs is to Mallarmé’s. The aim’s importance in Sampson’s poem even has the last note and oversized word in the poem.”
“By chance or by sly humor, the typeface used is DTL Elzevir. (((Sun-O))) is obviously not in the hunt for absolute fidelity to the edition planned by Mallarmé and Ambroise Vollard in 1896-97, which collapsed with the poet’s death. When Mallarmé’s son-in-law Dr. Edmond Bonniot issued an edition with Gallimard/NRF in 1914, the typeface was Elzevir, allegedly a face that Mallarmé detested. With this special edition of (((Sun-O))), Sampson is in the hunt on his own terms for his own more personal Mallarméan prism, constellation or radiant (((Sun-O))) that syntactically, auditorily, visually and physically scatters and focuses his response to the human condition.”
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