Mérimée's Colomba and the July Monarchy
Critics have generally considered the narratives of Prosper Mérimée as models of the Romantic fantastic or as innovations in the genre of the French short story. And while much attention has been given to Mérimée as recorder of the exotic Other, the political and cultural undercurrents of his fiction have been largely ignored. A close reading of Colomba (1840), however, reveals to what extent contemporary politics color Mérimée's works. The tensions felt by Louis-Philippe and his government parallel the central tensions of the narrative. Orso is torn between deference to the past (he must avenge his father's death) and the laws imposed by the King's representatives. Similarly the Citizen-King must balance his regime between the ideals of the recent past (Revolution and Empire – bringing Napoleon's remains back to France is one example of this) and the demands placed upon it by legitimists throughout Europe. (CC)
Volume 2000-2001 Fall-Winter; 29(1-2): 35-46.