“Jeune fille qui ne pleure pas son oiseau mort”: Female Puberty in Stendhal’s Lamiel

This article is a close reading of the fausse phthisie ruse in Stendhal’s Lamiel. It examines the scene in the 1840 version of the manuscript in which Lamiel and Doctor Sansfin fake the symptoms of tuberculosis using the blood of a dead bird. In the first instance, this article analyses the novel’s motif of the dead bird by using Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s Jeune fille qui pleure son oiseau mort (1765) and Denis Diderot’s Salon de 1765 as intertexts revealing the quasi-incestuous dimension of the fausse phthisie scene. In the second instance, it demonstrates how Lamiel charts the eponymous heroine’s physiological progression through puberty via its use of the terms petite and jeune fille. Ultimately, this article argues that Lamiel’s personal and sexual freedom is intimately connected to her subversion of both the visual iconography and the medical discourse of the jeune fille.

Sarah Jones
University of Oxford
Volume 50.1–2