Reversed Polarities in the Nuits: Anatomy of a Cure

Focusing on the internal dynamics of Musset's Nuits in order to shed light on the creative process, the Poet and the Muse are seen to function not only as projections of Musset, but more specifically from the standpoint of Jungian psychology, as his dramatized ego and anima. They evolve in a dynamic relationship away from "sickness," defined as reversed polarity toward a "cure" or stabilized self, reflected in a realignment of the polarized interlocutors. The theme of "guérison" constitutes a psychological as well as a structural criterion of success in the Nuits. Polarity is reversed in the sense that Musset's projected anima in the Muse overwhelms the Poet-ego. Only by working together in harmony can they heal the narrator's fragmented self. Despite progression in the Nuits that leads to the seemingly solid integration of self in "Souvenir," a behavioral problem revealed in "Tristesse" clouds the outcome of Musset's therapy through poetry. His acute awareness of failure situates his personal struggle within the broader context of generation and its "mal du siècle." (JFH)
Hamilton, James F
Volume 1991-1992 Fall-Winter; 20(1-2): 65-73