Ourika, or Galatea Reverts to Stone


In her novella Ourika (1823), Mme de Duras inverts the Pygmalion myth and portrays her eponymous heroine as a Galatea in reverse. When Ourika is confronted with her true condition, a process of psychological disintegration and physical suffering ensues, culminating in a death-like state, She is condemned to complete inaction, retreating to a convent. It is as if this black Galatea is forced to remount her pedestal and revert to stone. Duras's text constitutes an inquiry into what transpires in the psyche of a victim of oppression and injustice. Ourika's plight also attains the universal and represents that of humanity in a fallen world. (DD)

DiMauro, Damon
Release Year:
2000 Spring-Summer; 28(3-4): 187-211