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Biography 26.4 (2003) 740-745

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Bertrand Degott and Pierre Nobel, eds. Images du mythe, images du moi: Mélanges offerts à Marie Miguet-Ollagnier. Paris: Presses Universitaires Franc-Comtoises, 2002. 307 pp. ISBN 2-84627-051-1, $20.00.

This collection of conference papers in French reveals the eclectic interests of the woman in whose honor they were pronounced: Marie Miguet-Ollagnier has published widely on themes ranging from myth to autobiography. She has written numerous articles on contemporary playwrights and women writers, as well as four book-length studies, the first on the mythology of Marcel Proust (La Mythologie de Marcel Proust, 1982), the next two on myths in various forms (Mythanalyses, 1992, and Métamorphoses du mythe, 1997), and the final one on the multiple factors that influence the self (Les Voisinages du moi, 1999). As the title of this homage indicates ("Images of myth, images of the self"), questions of mythology and writing the self are at the forefront of many of these reflections dedicated to the twentieth-century literature specialist who recently retired from a university teaching career. [End Page 740] The book opens with a biographical poem that provides an outline of the life of Marie Miguet-Ollagnier: if one is not familiar with this scholar before coming across this publication, this introduction to her life and work serves as a springboard for the in-depth articles that follow.


The first division of the text is subtitled "Intertextuality," a heading that allows for considerable creativity: the first paper, Catherine Wieder's "Portrait de l'artiste en brodeuse. Patchwork psychanalytique en homage à Marie Miguet," contains a personal reflection on a life that is made up of "broken lines." In the eyes of this psychoanalytic critic, the idea of "patchwork," with its broad connotations of weaving and spinning, is preferable to "philosophy," because the former is not based on oppositional categories, but instead enters into "the dance of language" and puts up with paradoxes in their colorful play. The second paper in this section, François Migeot's "Écrire, eit-elle. Sur Aurélia Steiner," examines just how far paradoxes can go in a study of the appellation "Aurélia Steiner" in three texts of that name by Marguerite Duras. The complex case of several characters that bear the same first name demonstrates the problematic constitution of a subject through writing. The critic finds that this series of publications highlights the rhythm of the unconscious that makes itself felt. Without explicitly addressing madness, the texts "put it into action": characters mix, places lose their definition, and names float.

The third paper, Mireille Naturel's "L'alchimie intertextuelle dans Le Chercheur d'or de Le Clézio, une nouvelle recherche du temps perdu," delivers a convincing overview of Jean-Marie Le Clézio's work with mention of the specificity and originality of the Mauritian-born author's writing. It focuses on Le Chercheur d'or, with special attention to intertextuality in its most obvious forms (inclusion of names belonging to well-known characters from literary history, or titles of works inserted in italics), as well as to subtle, hidden poetic echoes of works by Arthur Rimbaud, who visited the island of Mauritius in the early 1870s.

The following two reflections focus on the writer who figures most prominently in Miguet's publishing history: Marcel Proust. Annick Bouillaguet's "L'intrusion de Chateaubriand, Michelet, Balzac et de quelques poètes dans À le recherché du temps perdu" reveals that Proust, while composing an œuvre without precedent, did not invent all of his ideas "out of nowhere." This article is wide in its range and eye opening in its approach to intertextuality—as pastiche, cruel imitation, and burlesque—in Proust's [End Page 741] work. Roger Barny's "Leur sensation privilégiée dans les toilettes des Champs-Élysees" continues this exploration of intertextual elements by zeroing in on a Proustian passage evoking a visit to a public restroom on the famous Parisian avenue. Any olfactory reference in the work of Proust naturally recalls the episode...


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