The Function of Mythic Patterns In Balzac's La Recherche de l'absolu

The function of the Faustian myth in Balzac's La Recherche de l'absolu is to give form and expression to paradoxical truths about human genius; it provides a model for understanding the apparent contradictions in the dynamics of creativity, human energy and thought. It suggests a symbolic interpretation of the essential dualism that is inherent in the dynamism of all life and creativity: the opposing principles of stable order and creative disorder, existing forms and the drive toward new forms, whose conflict is necessary to all meaningful change or transcendence. The story of Balthazar's quest not only illuminates major aspects of Balzac's philosophical speculation, it establishes a pattern of action and character that can be seen as fundamental to his fiction, both in the Etudes Philosophiques and in the Etudes de mœurs. Perhaps, the very keystone of his fictional universe, La Recherche de l'absolu offers an insight into a narrative strategy that suggests the real link between the two major divisions of his work. (HFM)

Majewski, Henry F.
Volume 1980-1981 Fall-Winter; 9(1-2): 10-27.