Machines and Malaise: Technology and the Comic in Villiers and Allais


Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's L'Eve future (1886) and the four sketches of the Contes cruels (1883) focusing on technology are powered by a hidden kinetics founded on an awe and malaise regarding science and its discourse. The comic highlights the tension between the longing to escape that dominant discourse and the apparent impossibility of an outside that becomes repressed into the textual "unconscious" of the tales and reveals itself more overtIy in L'Eve future. By way of contrast, the conformist treatment of technology in the vignettes of Alphonse Allais (c. 1890s) is juxtaposed to the ambivalences of Villiers's attitudes toward science. (WJ)

Johnson, Warren
Release Year:
1995-1996 Fall-Winter; 24(1-2): 192-202