Baroque fictions : revisioning the classical in Marguerite by Margaret Elizabeth Colvin

By Margaret Elizabeth Colvin

This quantity is the 1st in-depth research of the French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar’s fiction to contend that the author’s texts express in unforeseen methods quite a few features of the neobaroque. This subversive, postmodern aesthetic privileges extravagant creative play, flux, and heterogeneity. In demonstrating the affinity of Yourcenar’s texts with the neobaroque, the writer of this research casts doubt on their presumed transparency and balance, traits linked to the French neoclassical culture of the previous century, the place the Yourcenarian œuvre is typically positioned. Yourcenar’s election to the distinguished, tradition-bound French Academy in 1981 as its first lady “immortal” cemented her already well-established area of interest within the twentieth-century French literary pantheon. A self-taught classicist, historian, and modern day French moralist, Yourcenar has been praised for her polished, “classical” type and analyzed for her use of fantasy and common topics. whereas these elements at the start appear to justify amply the neoclassical label wherein Yourcenar is most generally famous, this study’s shut analyzing of 4 of her fictions unearths as an alternative the texts’ opacity and subversive resistance to closure, their rejection of solid interpretations, and their deconstruction of postmodern Grand Narratives. Theirs is a neobaroque “logic,” which stresses the absence of theoretical assurances and the restrictions of cause. The twist of fate of the hot millennium — which in such a lot of methods displays Yourcenar’s disquieting imaginative and prescient — and her centenary in 2003 offers no longer loads an excuse to reject the author’s neoclassical label, yet particularly the duty to reconsider it in mild of latest discourses. This examine might be of curiosity to scholars of twentieth-century French fiction and comparative literature, in particular that of the latter 1/2 the 20th century. desk OF CONTENTS: I. A Frontispiece II. advent Marguerite Yourcenar and the Writing of Fiction: a classy crucial III. bankruptcy 1 Anna,Soror...: Neobaroque Sacralizes the Abject IV. bankruptcy 2 Denier du rêve : Baroque Discourses,Fascist Practices V. bankruptcy three Neobaroque Humanism: “Sounding the Abyss ” in L ’Œuvre au Noir VI. bankruptcy four Neobaroque Confessions: Un homme obscur and the Oppressive Superficiality of phrases VII. end An writer for the hot Millennium VIII. chosen Works brought up and Consulted IX. Index of right Names

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Such tension perhaps arises from the author’s own ambivalence toward the reading public. She could be both generous and tolerant toward her readers if she considered them thoughtful and well informed: many are the occasions when she took the time to respond to her readers, as her biographers attest. She could also be dictatorial (as we shall see in later chapters) and derogatory when she chose to group her readers with contemporary society as a whole, whose hierarchical structures and systems she generally mistrusted and to which she maintained an attitude of ironic hostility.

Introduction 29 essays range from 1931 to 1982; in En pèlerin et en étranger, from 1927 to 1987. There is in my view something vertiginous and spiral-like in the continuous retracing, revisiting, revising, polishing, and expanding undertaken by the author during this last, lengthy phase of her literary career. ,” and so on) that accompany, valorize, and often exonerate each fictional work. It almost seems as though the author could confer on these works any sense of stability of purpose and meaning only retrospectively, once her notoriety was secured and, in a sense, almost beckoned her to do so.

Patrick Camiller, intr. Bryan S. Turner (London: Sage Publications, 1994) 39. 2 Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia UP, 1982) 1-17 ; and “Abjection,” The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism (London and New York: Routledge, 1998) 177. 52 Baroque Fictions guise of the transgressed prohibition against incest, saturates this short text, breaching classical notions of “nature” and bienséances. For unlike classical authors of antiquity or of seventeenth-century France whose use of themes of transgression and horror resulted in harmonious resolution (for example, divine justice/retribution or ineluctable destiny), Yourcenar’s employment of those themes suggests ambiguity, a lack of closure and resolution.

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