In a letter dated May 1887, Jean Lorrain writes to Barbey d'Aurevilly, "Je me permets de vous envoyer un article où je vous ai fort pillé, mais on ne pille que des trésors . . ."1 Lorrain had previously paid homage to Barbey in his 1897 Monsieur de Bougrelon, a parody of an eccentric based largely on the persona of Barbey. Lorrain's peculiar story of two French expatriates in Amsterdam is, in part, a tribute to Barbey and his literary influence. It is not only by dint of compliment that Lorrain refers to Barbey's writings as "trésors"; in the form of a collection of gems and precious stones, treasure is a fundamental trope in Barbey's oeuvre and it is likely that Lorrain understood the relevance of lapidary metaphors in Barbey's text. The following portrait reveals Barbey as a prototype for the protagonist of Lorrain's novel and suggests that the association between Barbey and precious stones is symbolic of both literary inspiration and creative transformation. In Lorrain's text, Bougrelon, "la silhouette épique," (Lorrain, Monsieur de Bougrelon 17) has left France for the Netherlands; he had acquired his "prestigieuse élégance" (35) from his native "Normandie royaliste," (35) which is a
Nineteenth Century French Studies – University of Nebraska Press
Published: May 12, 2003
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