Pierrot Narcisse: Théodore de Banville and the Pantomine


Fascinated by the pantomime of the Théâtre des Funambules, Banville appropriated its imagery and dynamics to project unconsciously, in his poetry and memoirs, a private interior drama. His saltimbanques aspiring towards le gouffre d'en haut, his Arlequins swooning into a dark embrace with their Colombines, his recollections of the transcendentally immaculate Pierrot of Jean-Gaspard Deburau – all suggest a nostalgia for the so-called "primary narcissism" of the infant's earliest life. The ambivalence accompanying this nostalgia, encouraged by the self-preserving instincts of the ego, is responsible for the ambiguities of Banville's attitude toward language and for the modest success of his verse. (RFS)

Storey, Robert F
Release Year:
1985 Winter-Spring; 13(2-3): 1-21.