Nerval's Peristyle

The impact of Classical or Southern mythology on Nerval's Chimères is studied in terms of (1) his mythic bricolage or syncretistic style, (2) the problem of personal identity, (3) the presence of Orientalism or of religions stressing the mother-gods. The inner drama of the poems is a (failing) quest to recognize or revive Delfica's "TEMPLE au péristyle immense," The word "péristyle" suggests (by an interpretive pun) both the powerfully indirect character of Nerval's poetic style and the superstitious borderland of oriental myth (legends of the péri) that sustain, dangerously or liminally, this verse. It may also suggest a desire for the style or viewpoint of the father (against that of the mother) – a style not achieved in these poems except, possibly, in "Il Desdichado." (GHH)

Hartman, Geoffrey
Volume 1976-1977 Fall-Winter; 5(1-2): 71-78.