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Un enlèvement peut en cacher un autre: Kidnapping the Past in La Duchesse de Langeais

Un enlèvement peut en cacher un autre: Kidnapping the Past in La Duchesse de Langeais Abstract: In La Duchesse de Langeais (1834), Balzac indicts the Restoration aristocracy for its egotistical disregard for the recent past. However, his criticism of the desire to repress history's lessons extends far beyond one political moment. This article explores how personal and political evolution remain indissociable, for Balzac, in reappraising the significance of past acts and present values. When Armand de Montriveau kidnaps the aristocratic Duchess, the intended result of his violent act is to make her conscious of her narcissism; yet Montriveau himself remains unconsciously amnesiac concerning his own complex past. Finally, it is the coquettish Duchess who understands the symbolism of his gesture and of her position; but without reciprocal insight, history is destined to remain a dead letter. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nineteenth-Century French Studies uni_neb

Un enlèvement peut en cacher un autre: Kidnapping the Past in La Duchesse de Langeais

Nineteenth-Century French Studies , Volume 41 (1) – Nov 2, 2012

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of Nebraska Press.
ISSN
1536-0172
Publisher site
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Abstract

Abstract: In La Duchesse de Langeais (1834), Balzac indicts the Restoration aristocracy for its egotistical disregard for the recent past. However, his criticism of the desire to repress history's lessons extends far beyond one political moment. This article explores how personal and political evolution remain indissociable, for Balzac, in reappraising the significance of past acts and present values. When Armand de Montriveau kidnaps the aristocratic Duchess, the intended result of his violent act is to make her conscious of her narcissism; yet Montriveau himself remains unconsciously amnesiac concerning his own complex past. Finally, it is the coquettish Duchess who understands the symbolism of his gesture and of her position; but without reciprocal insight, history is destined to remain a dead letter.

Journal

Nineteenth-Century French Studiesuni_neb

Published: Nov 2, 2012

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