Signs and Signals in La Chartreuse de Parme

Many characters in La Chartreuse de Parme are attentive to particular verbal signs and indices and to the various functions of communication that predominate in each of the three main sections of the novel. In the first section, which ends a little after the prediction of the Abbé Blanès, the referential function of language is primary and explains Fabrice's preoccupation with signs and omens, for Fabrice seeks to discover meaning in the world. In the second part of the novel, which culminates in the escape from prison, the code and means of communication are highlighted. Language becomes the mediator between man and the world. Fabrice in his tower exchanging light signals with Gina or playing the alphabet game with Clélia is a good illustration. In the last part of the novel it is the poetic function of language that is stressed. Poetic language is characterized by opacity, ambiguity and parallelism. Clélia's vow is the best example; it marks the apotheosis of language in the novel. The progression then is one away from the universe that discourse is about and towards discourse itself. (VK)

Kogan, Vivian
Volume 1973-1974 Fall-Winter; 2(1-2): 29-38.