PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE HISTORICAL NOVEL: CONSOLIDATION AND SUBVERSION OF THE SUBJECT IN "CINQ-MARS" AND "SALAMMBO" (FRANCE, FLAUBERT)
CRAVEN, PATRICK RAYMOND
Doctor of Philosophy
These independently-articulated readings of two nineteenth-century historical novels, Vigny's Cinq-Mars and Flaubert's Salammbo, reiterate the theft and restitution of the elusive signifier in Lacan's well-known metaphor of psychoanalysis (and reading): "The Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter'." Such a reading subverts the consolidated subject--the claim to unequivocal meaning in History--of Vigny's Romantic text, and consolidates the disseminate subject--the impossibility of assigning a meaning to History--in Flaubert's Realist novel. In Cinq-Mars, an initial focus on the novel's powerful and central scene of a popular uprising--a movement of revolt and repression which in a sense repeats the act of writing, the ordering of resistant signifiers into a form--leads us to a subsequent analysis of the character of Richelieu who embodies the Lacanian truth of the signifier as Master of the signified. He is the Other Author of the other text, the surface of signifiers, the metonymic chain of writing against which Cinq-Mars, as subject or signified of Vigny's counter-text, will provide the metaphoric illusion of depth and the vocal plenitude of Truth. Richelieu represents the alterity and opposition of a language the author of Cinq-Mars must overcome in order to accede to readability and meaning. In contrast to Cinq-Mars, Salammbo breaks down into a multitude of jewel-like shards which cannot be recomposed to reflect the wholeness of a literary or social architect, or Meaning as embodied in the person of the Author or, more abstractedly, in the coherence of a recognizable ideology. Our reading consolidates the subverted meaning of Flaubert's History by focusing on the philosophically-privileged motif of the veil. In Salammbo, the veil is momentarily "lifted" (in its plurality of meanings) to reveal what the novel's most eminent critics have failed to take into account: the undeniable spiritual evolution of Salammbo and Matho, whose ultimate demise can no longer be read as an unequivocal sign of pessimism, but as a celebration of becoming conscious.