The Mirror and the Flesh: Decadent Narcissism in Jean Lorrain's Le Crapaud


The myth of Narcissus is the subtext of Lorrain's short story, Le Crapaud (1895). As a mirror reverses images, the myth is allusively equivocal in that it is used to represent a boy's discovery, in a pool, of a blinded, bleeding toad that had gone there to die. In a decadent transposition of the myth, the initiatory experience leads the boy to discover the monster in himself. "Narcissus" learns about guilt, incest, fear of mutilation, or castration, and death. Thematics of the visual in this tale and in other works by Lorrain recall Freud's usage of Hoffmann's The Sand-Man.

Lowrie, Joyce O
Release Year:
1995-1996 Fall-Winter; 24(1-2): 170-77