The prose drama André del Sarto occupies a transitional position within Musset's dramatic œuvre, crowning the œuvres de jeunesse while announcing the masterpieces of 1833 and 1834. Situating the play within the larger romantic trends of the Restoration, the article focuses on the impulses which inform the hero's actions throughout the play and which finally bring him to suicide. Drawing on the theoretical work of Bataille, Girard and psychoanalyst Andras Zempléni, the essay illuminates the hero's romantic obsession with his image of the world and with his self-image, an obsession shared by Musset throughout his own life and career. (SM)
Lamartine, Alphonse de, 1790-1869. Toussaint Louverture.
Masculinity in literature.
Though ostensibly a play about Haiti and about black masculinity, Lamartine's Toussaint Louverture puts white masculinity center stage. A reading of the five-act drama informed by a psychoanalytic theory of hegemonic masculinity reveals that Toussaint's black body functions in the text as a fetish and that a white masculine anxiety subtends the very notion of a racial difference grounded in the body. Moreover, a consideration of how the presumptive nineteenth-century readers understood this text and how the 1850 spectators experienced the premiere blackface performance of the drama suggests further how gender and race intersected within the prevailing ideology of the period. (AFS-A)
This article examines the thematic tension in Fromentin's Dominique between maturity (the conventional telos of the roman d'apprentissage) and modernity, as described by theorists from Benjamin to Moretti. The three principal male figures illustrate this tension in contrasting ways. Dominique's much-vaunted achievement of maturity depends on a complete withdrawal from modern urban existence and is, moreover, questioned by the otherwise uncritical frame narrator. Olivier, who thrives in the modern city, suffers mental collapse and attempts suicide when he returns to the ancestral estate. Augustin, married and successful by the end of the novel, goes some way to resolving the tension but lacks the emotional and aesthetic sensitivity to act as a satisfactory model of maturity. Dominique, then, supports Franco Moretti's claim that conventional models of maturity are incompatible with the centrifugal and dissipative energies of modernity and takes its place alongside L'Education sentimentale in the mid-century crisis of the psychological novel. (RM)
This article is an analysis of the representation of the female body in Stéphane Mallarmé's first published poem, "Placet" (1862). The author argues that Mallarmé's use of an anachronistic sonnet form and its depiction of a gallant seduction obfuscate a series of underlying textual operations which serve to subjugate and expose its female recipient. Here the surreptitious blurring of the various "degrees of visibility" contained in the poem call into question the commonly held notion of Mallarmé's "discreet eroticism." This discussion serves as a springboard to a more general reconsideration of Mallarméan poetics and the critical matrices which are frequently used to analyze it. Looking specifically at psychoanalytic theory (often employed to explain both the poet's eroticism and his approach to language), the author contends that this model cannot fully account for Mallarmé's representational project. The author posits instead a phenomenological reading of his "corporal writing." (In French) (ds)
The emergence of an energetic movement of criticism oriented towards the status of language brought Hippolyte Taine (1828-1893) to publish De l'Intelligence (1870), his philosophical treatise. In his philosophy of language, Taine adopted Condillac's concept of sign. Images, which are a specific type of signs, permit us to imagine things that are not immediately available for experience. Those images, produced by our imagination, help us to understand what Taine called names. Taine defined common names as being twofold. They are general in that they are suited for all the types of objects they refer to (i.e., the name "wheel" stands for all possible wheels). Common names are also abstract in that they designate something universal and, thus, common to all the types of objects they refer to. Is it possible, asked Taine, to experience that universal something, which he defines as being the idea of a thing ? No, argued Taine, since the general idea of a thing comes from the very definition of this thing. (In French) (MG)
Mallarmé, Stéphane, 1842-1898 -- Criticism and interpretation.
Baudelaire, Charles, 1821-1867 -- Influence.
Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849 -- Influence.
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900.
Music -- Philosophy and aesthetics.
This article explores the extent to which the radical transformation of music envisaged by Wagner in the second half of the nineteenth century announced what Nietzsche later described as the fundamental crisis of modernity. It also examines how Mallarmé responded to the musician who wanted to impose limits to the poetic art, and how the French poet's views on the subject had in fact been influenced by Poe and Baudelaire. Through the new path he foresaw beyond the crisis of literature and poetry, Mallarmé conceived of a "logic" that, he suggested, was "eternal," to counter the musician's claims and, along with them, challenge and oppose from a poetic perspective, the philosophical ideals of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. (etm)
Horse-drawn omnibuses -- Social aspects -- France -- History -- 19th century.
Zola, Émile, 1840-1902. Au bonheur des dames.
Maupassant, Guy de, 1850-1893. Père.
The Parisian omnibus, introduced in 1828, served as a powerful symbol of urban and social change throughout the nineteenth century. The new conveyance heralded a radical transformation of Paris into the "capital of modernity" in the 1850s and 1860s. This essay considers the ambivalent and often contradictory attitudes toward the omnibus in the nineteenth-century cultural imagination by exploring representations of the omnibus as a social space in Zola's Au Bonheur des dames (1883) and in Maupassant's "Le Père" (1883). In Au Bonheur des dames, the omnibus embodies anxieties and dangers of modernity. Maupassant's "Le Père" illustrates how the meeting of sexes in the erotically charged space of the omnibus engenders social disruption.
Béraud, Jean, 1849-1935. Boulevard des Italiens, la nuit, devant le théâtre des variétés [visual works]
Paris (France) -- In literature.
Paris (France) -- In art.
Writing and painting offer incompatible perspectives. This fact is still widely ignored. Literally or otherwise, they have no acceptable common vocabulary. The present article explores this by comparing a scene by Jean Béraud (1849-1935) with an "identical" situation at the beginning of Nana. The same topography produces very different messages, diegesis being virtually excluded from painting (except when a specific anecdote or myth is referred to). The latter is in fact a space to be completely filled in with detail whilst literary narrative, naming things and defining their dynamic status in time, is inevitably full of holes. Painting is passive and immobile, spatially confined, and, beyond the precision of visual detail, inevitably opaque. The spectator must try to fill in the gaps. This is far from literature's approach : never a direct visual equivalent of the original scene. Different forms of theatrality result : Béraud's socially representative group invites us to all sorts of guessing games, whereas Zola's text is full of precise explanation: values and behaviour are meticulously explored, extending beyond the novel's text to the Rougon-Macquart cycle as a whole. (In French) (PMW)
Serially published in L'Echo de Paris between September 1892 and May 1893, Octave Mirbeau's unfinished novel Dans le ciel offers the author's clearest reflection on artistic expression as an impossible ideal. The novel shows that beauty untranslated into imagery is located in the creative process itself: in the moment of inspiration or in the suffering of the artist incapable of giving form to his vision.
Referred to in the title, the sky is a topological representation of the artist's brain, blue space seething with inchoate ideas, vaporous cloud-things shredding into evanescent shapes that break apart in the air. The journey traced in Mirbeau's novel maps the broken passage from conception to expression – from an artist's idea to the object embodying it. Between head and hand – between heaven and earth – the transmission of beauty involves disconnection and loss. A panoramic display of fantastic potential unconcretized in images and unbounded by frames, the sky is a painting of the dynamics of change. (RZ)