By Margaret Elizabeth Colvin
This quantity is the 1st in-depth examine of the French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar’s fiction to contend that the author’s texts show in unforeseen methods quite a few features of the neobaroque. This subversive, postmodern aesthetic privileges extravagant inventive play, flux, and heterogeneity. In demonstrating the affinity of Yourcenar’s texts with the neobaroque, the writer of this examine casts doubt on their presumed transparency and balance, features linked to the French neoclassical culture of the earlier century, the place the Yourcenarian œuvre is in most cases put. Yourcenar’s election to the distinguished, tradition-bound French Academy in 1981 as its first girl “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” sort and analyzed for her use of delusion and common topics. whereas these components in the beginning appear to justify amply the neoclassical label during which Yourcenar is most generally well-known, this study’s shut interpreting of 4 of her fictions finds as an alternative the texts’ opacity and subversive resistance to closure, their rejection of reliable 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 accident of the hot millennium — which in such a lot of methods displays Yourcenar’s disquieting imaginative and prescient — and her centenary in 2003 offers now not loads an excuse to reject the author’s neoclassical label, yet particularly the duty to re-evaluate it in mild of latest discourses. This research might be of curiosity to scholars of twentieth-century French fiction and comparative literature, specifically that of the latter half the 20th century. desk OF CONTENTS: I. A Frontispiece II. advent Marguerite Yourcenar and the Writing of Fiction: a cultured relevant 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 stated and Consulted IX. Index of right Names
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Additional resources for Baroque fictions : revisioning the classical in Marguerite Yourcenar
Like the modernist authors to whose era she belongs, she turned, we know, to Greek and Roman mythology, history, and culture for inspiration. The modernists who employed myths often rewrote them to achieve a certain effect, and Yourcenar was no exception, as her collection of Mannerist prose poems Feux (1936) demonstrates. She describes in her preface, written thirty-one years later, the incongruous, sometimes violent pairing of technological and cultural modernity and ancient myth. Yet, what is most striking about her use of myth in Feux— conceived during her “phase” of “expressionisme baroque” of the 1930s—is her marked preference for the anticlassical, the deformed and later decadent incarnations of these classical figures: Achilles as a transvestite; Mary Magdalene married to a homosexual, St.
But because of the apparent stylistic gulf between Yourcenar and those writers, it is easier to point in the first place to ways in which her works express the spirit of the neobaroque, and in the second place begin to identify some of her neobarque textual strategies which sustain that spirit, bearing in mind that they are far less flamboyant even in their most expressionistic phase than those of writers who wear the neobaroque label. The neobaroque represents a “loss of theoretical certainty”60: it is the moment when belief in reason, logocentric thought, and totalizing value systems is suspended.
Yourcenar always recognized in herself a lover of “extrêmes frontières” (“extreme frontiers”); the center, in her view, was mobile, everywhere: “Le centre est où nous sommes” (“The center is wherever we are”). She also exposed the reality underlying historical “progress”: “Toute situation est inextricable et irrémédiable. Chaque fois nous héritons de ses déchets et de son désordre” (“All situations are inextricable and irremediable. We invariably inherit their dregs and their disorder”). 47 If we were to reverse the baroque theorist Eugenio D’Ors’s observation that it is impossible for a coincidence of form not to correspond to a coincidence of mind,48 we might say that in __________________ 46 Guy Debord, La Société du spectacle (Paris : Editions Gallimard, 1992 ) 189.
Baroque fictions : revisioning the classical in Marguerite Yourcenar by Margaret Elizabeth Colvin