“À nous deux,” Balzac: Barrès’s Les Déracinés, and the Ghosts of La Comédie humaine

This article examines how Balzacian plots of ambition and ascension are held up as both possibility and impossibility in Maurice Barrès’s 1897 novel Les Déracinés, where they are subject to repeated, often simultaneous citation and denegation. After showing how Barrès, through a series of pronouncements about Balzac in his early career, attempts to define himself by renouncing this powerful model, I propose that Balzac and his iconic characters, Rastignac first among them, have an effaced but lingering presence in Les Déracinés that might be best described as a haunting.

François Proulx
Volume 42.3-4