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Telling Glances: Voyeurism in the French Novel

Overview

In French novels from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, a particular plot structure constantly reappears. A man desires a woman who is enigmatic and unattainable: he desires to see her and to understand her, to know exactly what she is, what she desires--in a sense, he wants to possess her through the knowledge of her (and of woman in general) that he gains through the power of his gaze. Since the information he desires remains hidden, the man resorts to spying on the woman in order to obtain the ...

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Overview

In French novels from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, a particular plot structure constantly reappears. A man desires a woman who is enigmatic and unattainable: he desires to see her and to understand her, to know exactly what she is, what she desires--in a sense, he wants to possess her through the knowledge of her (and of woman in general) that he gains through the power of his gaze. Since the information he desires remains hidden, the man resorts to spying on the woman in order to obtain the information he so desperately seeks.  He thus becomes a voyeur.

In Telling Glances, Dorothy Kelly investigates the curious repetition of this plot in novels by Mme de Lafayette, Diderot, Balzac, Stendahl, Zola, Proust, Duras, and others. Drawing on theories of the primal scene and voyeurism, feminist psychoanalytic theory, deconstruction, and film studies, she investigates the various configurations of the voyeuristic scenario in the novels and how these scenes of voyeurism attempt to control and contain certain unruly elements in the text and sometimes to go beyond limitations of containment. On the one hand there are closed systems that attempt to define and entrap the "truth" of sexual identity, on the other there are narratives (such as Stendahl's) that see truth as necessarily complex and identities as multiple.  Kelly looks beyond the elements of plot and character relationships to issues of narrative control and the position of the narrator in relation to the text, and the implications for the reader of complicity in the act of viewing. This book is an import contribution to many fields of study.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813518466
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction. The Voyeurist Gaze: Psychoanalysis and Literature 1
Pt. 1 Voyeurism as Containment in the French Novel
1 Voyeurism and the Primal Scene in Psychoanalysis 7
2 The Primal Scene of Seduction, Voyeurism, and La Religieuse 12
3 The Primal Scene of Castration, Voyeurism, and La Fille aux yeux d'or 34
4 The Primal Scene of Parental Intercourse, Voyeurism, and Le Voyeur 53
Pt. 2 Textuality and the Problematization of Voyeurist Truth
5 Romanticism, Voyeurism, and the Unveiling of Woman 75
Sexual/Textual Ambiguity in La Peau de chagrin
Symbolic Exchanges in La Chartreuese de Parme
6 Realism, Voyeurism, and Representation: The Artist's Gaze at the Woman 113
The Cementation of Ideology in Manette Salomon
Inescapable Ideology: Zola's L'Oeuvre
7 Voyeurism and the Elimination of Difference: Male 'I's/Eyes in First Person Narrative 146
Eliminating the Feminine in L'Immoraliste
Perceiving Difference: Seeing Albertine Seeing in Barbey and Proust
8 Voyeurism and the Recognition of Difference: Women's Writing and the Space of Identity 192
Seeing, Imitating, and Differing in La Princesse de Cleves
Triangulations of the Gaze: Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein
Conclusion. The Comic Gaze: A View Beyond Voyeurism 222
Notes 239
Bibliography 249
Index 257
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