Trapping Crayfish: The Artist, Nature, and Le Calcul in Balzac's La Rabouilleuse

Abstract: 

In La Rabouilleuse, Balzac dramatizes his own (and many contemporaries') ambivalent stance, as artist, towards nature. Through his characters' deceptive physiognomy, Balzac undermines his usual presentation of the artist as discoverer of divinely pre-arranged "correspondences." Through his idealized portrait of Joseph Bridau, the artist as hero, Balzac depicts the artist imposing form on a chaotic phenomenal world abandoned by God. This artist must employ trickery to wrest truth from nature, as the central fishing-image, rabouiller, implies, Balzac's unresolved philosophical tensions inform both his semi-allegorical presentation of the Bridau brothers as the simultaneously baneful and ennobling potential of la pensée and the underlying unity of an apparently disjointed plot. (DM)

Author: 
Magette, Dorothy.
Release Year:
Volume: 
1983-1984 Fall-Winter; 12(1-2): 54-67.