The Glorious Lie / The Glory of the Lie: A Poetry Card Game

The Glorious Lie / The Glory of the Lie: A Poetry Card Game

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Author: Stéphane Mallarmé

Publisher: Lucia Marquand (2022)

Upon his death, Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–98) left hundreds of notes on an unrealized great work he called The Book. Housed in a clear Plexiglas box, this card-deck conception of his project draws from that material, and from other writings alluding to its possible forms, including a letter in which he describes “a book that is architectural . . . The orphic explanation of the Earth, which is the sole duty of the poet, and the literary game par excellence.”

The title of this game derives from another letter in which Mallarmé writes, “perhaps the title of my volume of lyric poetry will be 
The Glory of the Lie, or The Glorious Lie.” Each deck contains forty-eight cards: three with artwork on each side, and forty-five with words or phrases on each side. The size of the cards, their gold edging and the physical housing of the decks in the box reflect descriptions and clues in Mallarmé’s notes.

The manner of playing the game is left open, but quotes and diagrams by Mallarmé in the accompanying twenty-page booklet point to the idea of pulling cards from each of the four decks and laying them out for one reading, then flipping the cards over for a second reading. The image cards function like the Arcana of Tarot, providing a visual language equal to the word cards. The readings might be used to create poetry or, like Tarot, to divine or illuminate.