To apply psychoanalysis to Balzac. Our hypothesis is that the narrative, textual and imagistic fragmentation characterizing the text is not gratuitous and does not necessarily correspond to a postmodern or poststructuralist point of view. The narrator, by contrast, is a debauched mondain in nineteenth-century Paris. Cet objet est le corps humain.
The narrator is, indeed, able to offer only a partial and incomplete idea of his object despite the excessively long — even obsessive — description of him. The old man is represented as a fragmented vestige from another era, but the key element that would give finality to the portrait remains missing. The puzzle pieces that the narrator presents in the first half of the narrative the description of the Lanty family, the fragmented condition of the old man, the picture of the Adonis, etc.
The abrupt crossing of temporal and geographical frontiers corresponds to the internal rupture of consciousness marking the separation between Sarrasine and the narrator. Attached to Catholic France figured geographically by the still Catholic nineteenth-century Italy where Sarrasine discovers transcen-. The narrator does not immediately reveal the content of these two disparate worlds which he views as a banality of modern Parisian life, nor does he explain the psychological division between life and death or between the exterior and interior worlds.
This internal division may be connected to his catastrophic experience with the old man since his perspective on him is also radically divided. On the other, the old man is dead, in ruins, a spirit, a ghost, a source of cold, darkly-clothed and smelling of a cemetery. The anonymous narrator, a double of Sarrasine, emerges resuscitated from death and endeavours to explain the cause and the consequences of the spiritual catastrophe to others. His narratorial dilemma is that his nineteenth-century reading-public will be perplexed or scandalized by his love object, since he had fallen in love with a man.
It is un-. Understanding this lost illusion involves great difficulty, and is not without certain dangers. In order to avoid an immediate scandal and gain the confidence of modern readers, Sarrasine takes cover under his own death, doubling and obscuring himself behind the anonymous narrator while hiding the identity of his ideal love object behind a feminine appearance.
In other words, he transforms his loss of religious love into a hoax love story, recounted anonymously and in the third-person, about how Sarrasine fell in love with an opera singer, a castrato disguised as a woman. At the thematic level, we could easily conclude that the narrator does not master his story. But is the scandal awaiting Rochefide i. For what narrator would publicly recount his own failure if there were not some hidden and more serious objective?
That the obvious scandal i. The old, displaced emotions associated with la Zambinella surge forth into consciousness, reminding him of. Why would this be if he had not been formerly so attached to the totality? And who else in his tale other than Sarrasine had known la Zambinella in his perfection and would thus be in a position to regret his current ruined state? There are other examples of a residual attachment: who other than Sarrasine would see in the old man the image of a woman we know that Sarrasine had first perceived la Zambinella dressed as a woman?
Without appealing to the myth of the omniscient narrator, who except Sarrasine would have known this body sufficiently to make a comparison between present and past? The Christological allegory of love will be discussed later. Consider, for example, the strange event that takes place immediately after the description of the old man: the narrator personifies his thought and underscores this act so that the reader does not fail to reflect on its content.
By this strange omission Balzac may be simulating a blockage in order to make the reader look for the solution, requiring us to follow the allegorical logic of the tale.
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The narrator wants us to discover his union with the old man, but cannot refer to himself or to the union directly without causing a scandal. Marianina, personifying a resuscitated Sarrasine, provides the means to present to the public a heterosexual union, but by linking it to Sarrasine the anonymity of the narrator remains intact.
If the narrator manages to make us believe that the two sides of the union of his personified thought are the old man and Marianina, it is through a logic of contiguity, but also because bourgeois conventions push us to find a union between man and woman as a solution to the marital mystery. Marianina, as the only young woman in the story, is therefore assumed to be the twentytwo-year old symbolic spouse of the old man. The kernel of the entire narrative, the union on which all the other events depend, but which remains nonetheless obscure, is the union that Sarrasine fantasizes about with la Zambinella at the opera in Rome, of which the memory is unsignifiable in a word.
Balzac puts us onto the scent by various indirect means, including literary tropes. For it is the narrator who insists on this detail, and why would he be so precise in stating the age of the partner in both unions with la Zambinella if no secret link existed between the two? Marianina, in our view, figures Sarrasine in the modern, bourgeois era. The narrator needs her feminine identity in order to indicate discreetly to the modern and bourgeois reading public the scandalous union of Sarrasine and la Zambinella, while giving us the key to deciphering his identity in her.
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When the narrator sees the old man for the first time after so many years, emotions and memories attached to the young Zambinella rise to consciousness alongside his current appearance, leaving the narrator divided between two images and two sets of emotions. Yet no scientific, historiographic or narrative convention existed at the time to capture this split reality of his consciousness, especially with one half anchored in an admissible love. Consider now the key scene where Sarrasine imagines himself in a mystical union with la Zambinella.
We begin to perceive that la Zambinella symbolizes a spiritual or religious kind of love for Sarrasine.
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The voyage in geographical space is then simultaneously a voyage in time, towards a Catholic homeland that remains intact. Most likely, the narrator imagines la Zambinella as half of a mystical union. According to the conventions of Catholic mysticism, the union of two souls and two fleshes forms a perfect unity. Translated visually, it would be perfectly logical to see only one body.
We see a hermaphrodite with both male and female traits, but whose gender is, ultimately, masculine. Does this mean that the original model for all the copies is that of a man? The narrator explicitly says that the statue is of a woman while contradicting himself with the presentation of the material evidence and narrative symbolism, thus casting doubt on his own reliability. Yet if the narrator is Sarrasine, he cannot expose his love story openly.
For epistemological and moral reasons, he is forced to communicate indirectly, playing a double game by presenting his union in heterosexual terms while offering clues about the concealed truth. The statue is not a purely visual entity, but emerges from the union of a phallic voice the symbol of idealized masculine love penetrating the vaginal soul of Sarrasine. And why not a male, since the erotico-mystical images representing the voice of la Zambinella are phallic while the soul of Sarrasine is female?
Though this initially seems.
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In the modern and desacralized context in which the narrator tells the story of his lost illusion, mystical love no longer officially exists and is, in any case, incomprehensible according to a rationalist or materialist epistemology. This explains the scandal of signification generated by the relationship between Sarrasine and la Zambinella. At one level, a love between two men registers in a modern context as homoerotic love.
At another, any attempt to signify a religious or transcendental ideal will necessarily cause a slippage of meaning and infinite signification: immanent linguistic conventions cannot, by definition, render divinity. It registers as an absence or gap in meaning. The narrator, however, plays a double game, revealing that Sarrasine knew his ideal object of love to be a man. Homme ou femme, je te tuerai! The absence of love provokes a catastrophic separation, a death in the soul, a radical disillusion, after which the narrator will no longer have direct access to the soul or to the transcendent love of la Zambinella, or to his own former state of mind.
While remaining sentimentally attached to his former self the self that had access to divine love , his rational consciousness and his language become radically detached. Up to this point our allegorical reading remains speculative. However, we find confirmation at the end of the narrative, when Madame de Rochefide interprets for us what the narrator has been attempting to accomplish, sharing his religious disillusionment with her in order to shake her from her Christian illusions: Ah!
The divine love and religious belief that la Zambinella symbolizes have no real substance in a modern, post-Catholic world: this is why the old man appears to the narrator as a ghost with a dead and hollow body. Throughout the s she collected artefacts retrieved from archeological digs, financed excavations in her local Berry and took part in other archaeological ventures in the area.
She threw herself into the study of botany, geology, entomology and, although it is less widely known, archaeology and one of its branches in particular, numismatics. Her archaeological interests have often been overlooked by critics,1 due to the fact that they have been either largely hidden by her research into folklore and ethnography or have, alternatively, been understood as forming part of those activities. George Sand and archaeological relics Her interest in and her passion for archaeology was apparent in her many site visits and, most especially, in her excavations.
It should, however, be noted that she was particularly partial to Celtic archaeology. While she took the opportunity to visit Roman sites in the south of France and in Italy, these visits simply did not hold the same fascination for her. By the s, druid stones were already proving to be a source of interest for the novelist.
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In , in Mauprat, a very short scene takes place on a druid stone at Crevant. This site would become a favourite beauty-spot for the whole Sand family in the s, where they would go to pick flowers and to catch butterflies among the standing stones. Subsequently, in , Sand visited a much more impressive site, that of Toulx-Saint-Croix, in the Creuse region.
There she discovered the standing stones, taking great pleasure in their contemplation. Je compte sur Charles pour cela. Then, in the s, a stroke of good fortune would have it that archaeological excavations were undertaken on her very doorstep. This opportunity led, during the month of February , to George Sand becoming a real archaeologist herself. Sand, Agendas, I, p. Pour satisfaire la passion de ces jeunes.