Error is ubiquitous in Sarrasine. A narrator seeks to seduce an aristocratic lady by telling her a gruesome tale: she sends him packing. An aristocratic lady seeks to uncover the truth about Paris and its secrets: she recoils in disgust and horror. A sculptor seeks the love of a wondrous singer: all he in fact loves is an illusion contrived by (other) men. Balzac's entire short story Ð which is a spectacular fictional creation Ð is constructed out of these illusions and halftruths: as a result, readings are misreadings, hermeneutics is misled and misleading and erring judgments become a poetics of misunderstanding which has, for Balzac, not only a narratalogical but perhaps even an existential status. What provides the key to this musical narrative is, however, painting, just as it is money which underpins the fate of artists. And between rebuttals and confusions what we see emerge is all the terrifying ambiguity of male desire. (In French) (EB)


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pp. 41-52
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