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

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 a variety of 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 learn casts doubt on their presumed transparency and balance, traits linked to the French neoclassical culture of the earlier century, the place the Yourcenarian œuvre is traditionally 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” sort and analyzed for her use of fantasy and common topics. whereas these components in the beginning appear to justify amply the neoclassical label during which 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 strong interpretations, and their deconstruction of postmodern Grand Narratives. Theirs is a neobaroque “logic,” which stresses the absence of theoretical assurances and the constraints of cause. The twist of fate of the recent millennium — which in such a lot of methods displays Yourcenar’s disquieting imaginative and prescient — and her centenary in 2003 gives no longer a lot an excuse to reject the author’s neoclassical label, yet quite the duty to re-examine it in gentle of latest discourses. This examine may be of curiosity to scholars of twentieth-century French fiction and comparative literature, in particular that of the latter half the 20 th century. desk OF CONTENTS: I. A Frontispiece II. creation Marguerite Yourcenar and the Writing of Fiction: a cultured important 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 recent Millennium VIII. chosen Works mentioned and Consulted IX. Index of right Names

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The neobaroque obviously then is among other things a challenge or even an outright revolt on the part of the marginalized “other” against the totalizing objective of modern, western logocentrism. By virtue of her erudition, her interests, her highly developed sense of western European culture, and her tradition-bound, aristocratic milieu, Marguerite Yourcenar is far removed from this line of neobaroque writers. In fact, one of the striking characteristics of the neobaroque as many understand the term today is precisely its appropriation by artists of the New World and Africa, marginalized by and defiant of western European cultural traditions.

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.

True, she shares with baroque and neobaroque artists alike an obsessive desire to astound, evident in her unfaltering, masterful (re)creation of imaginary worlds and her manipulation of an encyclopedic erudition. 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.

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