Mimesis and Theory brings together twenty of René Girard's uncollected essays on literature and literary theory, which, along with his classic, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel , have left an indelible mark on the field of literary and cultural studies. Spanning over fifty years of critical production, this anthology offers unique insights into the origin, development, and expansion of Girard's "mimetic theory"a groundbreaking account of human interaction and of the genesis of cultural forms.
The essays run the gamut of Western literary culture, from Racine and Shakespeare to the existentialist writings of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. The authors who have most influenced GirardStendhal, Proust, and Dostoevskyreceive extended treatment, and Girard's observations on the changing landscape of literary studies are chronicled in several essays devoted to psychoanalysis, formalism, structuralism, and post-structuralism.
Though at times overshadowed by his work in religious and cultural anthropology, Girard's work in the area of literary studies has been the wellspring of his thought. All of the essays in this volume develop the idea that the greatest authors are also the greatest students of human nature, for their artistic intuitions are generally more penetrating than the analyses of the philosophers or the social scientists. Girard does not offer us a theory of literature but literature as theory.
About the Author
René Girard is the Andrew B. Hammond Professor Emeritus of French Civilization at Stanford University and a member of the Académie française. Robert Doran is James P. Wilmot Assistant Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Rochester.
Table of Contents
Editor's Note ix
Editor's Introduction: Literature as Theory xi
History in Saint-John Perse 1
Valery and Stendhal 13
Classicism and Voltaire's Historiography 26
Pride and Passion in the Contemporary Novel 33
Stendhal and Tocqueville 42
Memoirs of a Dutiful Existentialist: Simone de Beauvoir 50
Marcel Proust 56
Marivaudage, Hypocrisy, and Bad Faith 71
Formalism and Structuralism in Literature and the Human Sciences 80
Racine, Poet of Glory 96
Monsters and Demigods in Hugo 125
Bastards and the Antihero in Sartre 134
Critical Reflections on Literary Studies 160
Narcissism: The Freudian Myth Demythified by Proust 175
Theory and Its Terrors 194
Love and Hate in Chretien de Troyes' Yvain 214
Innovation and Repetition 230
Mimetic Desire in the Underground: Feodor Dostoevsky 246
Conversion in Literature and Christianity 263
The Passionate Oxymoron in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet 274