Pleasure/Time or Egoism/Love: Rereading La Peau de chagrin

The two options proposed by the antiquaire in the early pages of La Peau de chagrin between consumption and renunciation and based on a pleasure/time calculus do not represent, as has been generally believed, the main opposition within the novel. The antiquaire's choices are revealed to be false ones as the text articulates a more fundamental choice between both of the antiquaire's options which, as interchangeable excesses, are seen as species of egoism, on the one hand, and love, symbolized by the portrait of Christ in the antiquaire's shop, on the other. Christ's law of love is best realized in Pauline who emerges as the moral exemplar of the novel. (EJT)

Talbot, Emile J
Volume 1982-1983 Fall-Winter; 11(1-2): 72-82.