[I]t is inexact to speak of failure if we must qualify Mallarmé’s enterprise. A book that really would be a book: hidden beneath this seemingly tautological formula lies a true challenge, an outrageous demand, analogous with the infinite work or weaving, a demand that is always taken up again, which Proust took right into his death bed, “A book that really would be a book,” in one sense, is always impossible, for it would imply a “world that really would be a world,” a present that would be a present. The Book represents nothing other than that: “it is, the title of an interminable study and series of notes that I have here, under my hands, and which controls the deepest part of my soul,” as Mallarmé writes in a letter.
—Marc Froment-Meurice, Solitudes: from Rimbaud to Heidegger (State Univ. of New York Press, 1995) translated by Peter Walsh, foreword translated by Douglas Brick.