Object Loss, Fetishism and Creativity in Octave Mirbeau


In a recent article Donald Moss attributes the impulse to do creative work to a response to perceived loss. But in Octave Mirbeau, art is not grounded in the infant's reaction to the absence of the mother's breast but in the fetishist's denial of the absent maternal phallus. Like the infamous Monsieur Rabour in Le Journal d'une femme de chambre, the boot fetishist, as Emily Apter writes, "operate[s] entirely in the realm of the simulacrum, generating a copy or surrogate phallus for an original that was never there in the first place." Similarly Mirbeau's work aims at establishing a future society modeled on an ideal of nature that existed only as an object of desire and is motivated by a utopian impulse to produce literature whose political aim is the creation of a world in which the writer is obsolete. (RZ)

Ziegler, Robert
Release Year:
1999 Spring-Summer; 27(3-4): 402-15