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By Margaret Elizabeth Colvin

This quantity is the 1st in-depth learn of the French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar’s fiction to contend that the author’s texts show in unforeseen methods various 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, characteristics linked to the French neoclassical culture of the previous 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 woman “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 issues. whereas these elements initially appear to justify amply the neoclassical label in which Yourcenar is most generally famous, this study’s shut examining of 4 of her fictions unearths as an alternative the texts’ opacity and subversive resistance to closure, their rejection of sturdy 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 recent millennium — which in such a lot of methods displays Yourcenar’s disquieting imaginative and prescient — and her centenary in 2003 presents no longer lots an excuse to reject the author’s neoclassical label, yet relatively the duty to reconsider it in gentle of latest discourses. This research should be of curiosity to scholars of twentieth-century French fiction and comparative literature, in particular that of the latter 1/2 the 20 th century. desk OF CONTENTS: I. A Frontispiece II. creation Marguerite Yourcenar and the Writing of Fiction: a cultured valuable 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 stated and Consulted IX. Index of right Names

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40 Baroque Fictions famous fictional work Mémoires d’Hadrien, and in her other fictional milestone, L’Œuvre au Noir. 50 This moment of history chosen by Marguerite Yourcenar is pre-Judeo-Christian (the basis of the West’s ethical, philosophical, and aesthetic traditions) yet postpagan, for those gods have also been dismissed. It is a moment suspended in time during which moral license, absolute freedom, and limitless creative potential briefly reign. Obviously at work here is Marguerite Yourcenar’s baroque vision: a precarious entre-deux upon which she can, paradoxically, impose the “structure” of her classicist and historical erudition.

__________________ 59 Severo Sarduy, “The Baroque and the Neobaroque,” Latin America in Its Literature, ed. Ivan A. Schulman, trans. Mary G. , 1980) 116-17. 46 Baroque Fictions If we are therefore to talk at all about the character of the neobaroque in Marguerite Yourcenar’s writings, we must first acknowledge that it differs fundamentally from the ostentatious, almost explosive style represented by the Latin American, Caribbean, and African neobaroque. 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.

The Aesthetics of Modernity, trans. Patrick Camiller, intr. Bryan S. Turner (London: Sage Publications, 1994) 39. 2 Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia UP, 1982) 1-17 ; and “Abjection,” The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism (London and New York: Routledge, 1998) 177. 52 Baroque Fictions guise of the transgressed prohibition against incest, saturates this short text, breaching classical notions of “nature” and bienséances. For unlike classical authors of antiquity or of seventeenth-century France whose use of themes of transgression and horror resulted in harmonious resolution (for example, divine justice/retribution or ineluctable destiny), Yourcenar’s employment of those themes suggests ambiguity, a lack of closure and resolution.

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