Theophile Gautier's "Arria Marcella" Book Review by hoon4vr

Theophile Gautier's "Arria Marcella"
Looks at the prism of fantasy and reality in Theophile Gautier's "Arria Marcella".
# 106425 | 2,090 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2008 | US
Published on Aug 05, 2008 in Literature (French) , English (Analysis)

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This paper explains the relevance of the relationships between visual reality and literary illusion in nineteenth-century French fantastic literature, such as Theophile Gautier's short story "Arria Marcella". The author points out that the structure of the fantastic element in literature conforms to the optical principle of the paraxis, which is a dimension where object and image appear to coincide and in which the eye cannot distinguish from tangible reality. The paper relates the plot and explores this concept of the paraxis as a useful tool to analyze the multi-layered appositions of illusion and reality that define Octavien's fantastic adventure in this short story.

From the Paper:

"The narrator states that for Octavien, the wheel of time left its normal "rut" (62) and permitted him not only to confront a preexisting ideal but also, and crucially, to participate in a "chimere retrospective," thereby in one sweep fulfilling his life (63). Gautier organizes "Arria Marcella" as a dialectic consisting of an accumulation of tensions between an accepted reality on the one hand and a static, inaccessible ideality on the other hand, which leads to a synthesis integrating ideality and materiality. Such paradigms pile up and complement each other in "Arria Marcella".

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Gautier, Theophile. "Arria Marcella." Theophile Gautier's Short Stories. By Theophile Gautier. Trans. George Burnham Ives. New York: Books for Libraries P, 1970. 46-95.
  • Jackson, Rosemary. Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion. London: Methuen, 1981.
  • Laplanche, Jean, Interpretation between Determinism and Hermeneutics: A Restatement of the Problem', trans. Philip Slotkin, 1999

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