The Question of Mimesis in Gautier's Contes Fantastiques

The subject of mimesis arises in fantastic literature because the protagonist usually confronts that which threatens the basis of his perceptions of reality. Previous critics either stress the breach that exists between the "real" and the "unreal" in fantastic tales or the hesitation experienced by the protagonist when confronted with a supernatural event. This study focuses on the juncture or the point of contact between reality and unreality in Théophile Gautier's fantastic fiction. Gautier tries to convince his readers by describing the "unreal" event in the most realistic manner possible. In "Arria Marcella" Gautier carefully prepares and presents the fantastic event. It occurs when Octavien returns to Pompeii for a second time and the city of old revives before him. The description of the event is compared to Eric Auerbach's analysis of Dante's "Farinata and Cavalcante" in Mimesis. The tension between reality and unreality is also scrutinized in "Spirite," Gautier's most ethereal novella. (JOL)

Lowrie, Joyce O
Volume 1979-1980 Fall-Winter; 8(1-2): 14-29.