Villiers de L'Isle-Adam: Le domaine du fantastique et les limites de la science

Villiers de l'Isle-Adam opposes a spiritual to a scientific attitude, an opposition that serves to define or delineate the domain of death. In "Le convive des dernières fêtes" he shows the failure of a scientific explanation of death in the presence of a demonic occultism into which all previous scientific attempts are integrated. In "Les secrets de l'échafaud" pinpointing the exact moments of death proves impossible, for the dying victim's reflexes remain impenetrable and the cold blooded scientist is affected by occult forces. In "L'intersigne" a bored aristocrat fails to recognize the meaning of his nocturnal visions. Unable to understand the divine signals, to communicate with the world beyond, the protagonist leads a very diminished existence. Centering around the presence of death, Villiers's stories stress the inadequacy of the human mind and the necessity to believe in the supernatural. (RRH)

Hubert, Renée Riese.
Volume 1973 Spring; 1(3): 174-81.