This study explores the interrelationship between spatiality and subjecthood in the work of Stephane Mallarme, Guillaume Apollinaire, Maurice Maeterlinck, and Alfred Jarry. Concerned with various modes of poetry and drama, it also examines the cross-pollination that can occur between these modes, focusing on a range of core texts including Mallarme's Igitur and Un Coup de des; Apollinaire's 'Zone' and various of his calligrammes; Maeterlinck's early one-act plays: L'Intruse, Les Aveugles, and Interieur; and Jarry's Ubu roi and Cesar-Antechrist.. The poetic and dramatic practices of these four authors are assessed against the broader cultural and philosophical contexts of the fin de siecle.
The fin de siecle witnessed a profound epistemological shift: the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm, increasingly challenged throughout the nineteenth century, was largely dismantled, with ramifications beyond physics, philosophy, and psychology. Chapter 1 introduces three foundational notions—Newtonian absolute space, the unitary Cartesian subject, and subject-object dualism—that were challenged and ultimately overthrown in turn-of-the-century science and art. Developments in theatre architecture and typographic design are examined against this philosophical backdrop with a view to establishing a diachronic and interdisciplinary framework of the authors in question. Chapter 2 focuses on the spatial dimension of Mallarme's Un Coup de des and Apollinaire's calligrammes—works which defamiliarise page-space by undermining various (naturalised) conventions of paginal configuration. In Chapter 3, the notion of liminality is implemented in an analysis of character and diegetic space as constructed in Jarry's Ubu roi and Maeterlinck's one-acts. Chapters 4 and Chapter 5 undertake a more abstract investigation of parallel inverse processes-the subjectivisation of space and the spatialisation of the subject—manifest not only in the works of Mallarme, Maeterlinck, Apollinaire, and Jarry, but in the period's poetry and drama more generally.