Mallarmé's Self-replicating Machine: A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance

  • Karen ann Donnachie independent
  • Andy Simionato RMIT University


This paper explores the artistic legacy of Stéphane Mallarmé’s 1897 poem “Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolirà le Hasard” through a selection of derivative works, in order to demonstrate how the poem can be interpreted in digital environments as a self-replicating machine, programmatically facilitating the ongoing production of potentially countless ulterior works, including our own internet recasting called Through a detailed discussion of this work, we will attempt to draw a lineage between Mallarmé’s original poem/book of 1897 and Google, incorporated a century later, in 1997. In conclusion, we will speculate on the potential that our interpretation of Mallarmé’s work may provide a form of poetry for non-human readers, which we interpret as a metaphysical search for meaning by the kinds of Artificial Intelligence programs currently in development by corporations such as Google.


electronic literature, generative poetry, remediation, Google

  • Abstract viewed = 112 times
  • PDF viewed = 44 times
  • HTML viewed = 34 times


Download data is not yet available.


BINDEMAN, Steven (2017). Silence in Philosophy, Literature, and Art. Leiden; Boston: Brill-Rodopi.

BLANCHOT, Maurice (2003). The Book to Come. Trans. Charlotte Mandell. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Univer-sity Press.

BOWIE, Malcolm (1978). Mallarmé and the Art of Being Difficult. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

BROODTHAERS, Marcel (1969). Un Coup De Dés Jamais N’abolira Le Hasard.

BROODTHAERS, Marcel (1992) “L’Exposition à la Galerie” in Broodthaers: Exhibition, Paris, National Gallery of Jeu de Paume, 17 December 1991-1 March 1992. Paris: Ed. du Jeu de Paume.

DERRIDA, Jacques (1978). Writing and Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

DIACONO, Mario & Mallarmé, Stéphane (1968). A Metrica N'aboolira. San Francisco: Edizioni JCT, Futura Press.

DONNACHIE, Karen Ann and Andy Simionato (2017). “A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance.” Tokyo TDC Exhibition 2017. DDD Kyoto, Japan, July-August, 2017; Ginza Gallery Tokyo, Japan, April 2017.

DYSON, George (2012). Turing’s Cathedral : The Origins of the Digital Universe. New York: Pantheon Books.

EVAN, Cerith Wyn (2010). … après Stéphane Mallarmé.

FRAENKEL, Ernest (1960). Les Déssins Trans-conscients De Stéphane Mallarmé. Paris: Nizet.

GROYS, Boris (2011). “Google: Words Beyond Grammar.” Documenta 13: 100 Notizen-100 Gedanken, vol. 46.

GUATTARI, Félix (1995). “On Machines.” Andrew Benjamin ed. Complexity, JPVA, 6.

GUERLAC, Suzanne (2000). Literary Polemics. Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

HOKENSON, Jan (2004). Japan, France, and East-West Aesthetics: French Literature, 1867-2000. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press.

HUGONNIER, Marine (2007). Un Coup De Dés Jamais N'abolira Le Hasard—L'Espace Social.

KELLY, Ellsworth (1992). Un Coup De Dés Jamais N’abolira Le Hasard, New York Limited Editions Club.

LERICOLAIS, Rainier (2009). Carton Perforé.

MARANDA, Michael (2008). Un Coup De Dés Jamais N’abolira Le Hasard: Livre.

MEGGS, Philip and Alston Purvis (1992). A History of Graphic Design. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

MEILLASSOUX, Quentin (2012). The Number and the Siren. Trans. Robert Mackey. Fairmouth, UK: Ur-banomic; New York: Sequence Press.

MOLINARI Guido and Stéphane Mallarmé (2003). Equivalence, A Stroke Of The Dice Never Will Abolish Chance, Montreal: Editions Du Passage.

PEARSON, Roger (2004). Mallarmé and Circumstance: The Translation of Silence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

PICHLER, Michalis (2009). Un Coup De Dés Jamais N‘abolira Le Hasard (MUSIQUE).

RALEY, Rita (2016). “Algorithmic Translations.” CR: The New Centennial Review, 16.1: 115-138.

VON AHN, Luis, Benjamin Maurer, Colin McMillen, David Abraham & Manuel Blum (2008). “Recaptcha: Human-based Character Recognition Via Web Security Measures.” Science, 321 (5895). doi: 10.1126/science.1160379

WINOGRAD, Terry, James Sheeran and Morton Sosna (1991). The Boundaries of Humanity: Humans, Ani-mals, Machines. Berkeley: University of California Press.

ZBOYA, Eric (2011). Un Coup De Dès: At the Heart of a Shipwreck (Visual Poem).
How to Cite
DONNACHIE, Karen ann; SIMIONATO, Andy. Mallarmé's Self-replicating Machine: A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance. MATLIT: Materialities of Literature, [S.l.], v. 6, n. 1, p. 37-49, aug. 2018. ISSN 2182-8830. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 18 aug. 2019.
Secção Temática | Thematic Section

Most read articles by the same author(s)