Magritte gave Broodthaers a copy of Mallarme’s Un coup de Des jambs n’abolira le Hasard. In a sense this act was Magritte’s way of ‘explaining’ his art to the young admirer without explaining it literally but it also opened out the heritage of which his art was a part.
Broodthaers (b. Brussels, 1924) was a poet until he turned himself into an artist in order to explain Magritte’s art, at least to himself, by means of objects.
Cette roublarde a evité le moule de société
Elle s’est coulee dans le sien propre
D’autres ressemblantes partagent avec elle l’anti mer
Elle est parfaite.
This clever thing has avoided the mould of society
She has cast herself in her very won.
Others just like her share the anti-sea
She is perfect.
This poem (impossible to translate adequately because of its pun une mould = a mussel; un moule = a mould), was written before he became an artist. It could have been for a bestiary, for obviously the mould stands for a type of person or behaviour as do the animals of La Fontaine. It, or ‘she’ in French, is her own mould, the crustacean literally, the person metaphorically. She is shaped by her own shell not by fashion. At the same time she makes (secretes) her own mould or shell.
Words are stripped of meaning by being turned into an object but as a result attain to a new meaning. Mallarmé’s poem ‘Un coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le hasard’ (1897) uses the shape of lines of words to add to their grammatical meaning.