Octave Mirbeau's Fictions of the Transcendental (Hardback)
  • Octave Mirbeau's Fictions of the Transcendental (Hardback)
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Octave Mirbeau's Fictions of the Transcendental (Hardback)

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£54.95
Hardback 222 Pages / Published: 21/04/2015
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Political firebrand, tireless reformer, champion of the avant-garde, Octave Mirbeau embraced his role as disturber of the peace. Inspired by Kropotkin and Dostoyevsky, Mirbeau became the social conscience of the era, speaking in a clear voice to impugn capitalist ideology, to defend the cause of the worker, the child, the pauper, the prostitute, and the soldier sacrificed as cannon fodder. Mirbeau's critiques of society seethe with indictments of indoctrinating agencies: the family, which stifled the child's freedom and expressive creativity, the school, which besotted students with the aridity of its curriculum, the army, which privileged patriotism over the sanctity of life, the church, which sanctified suffering, perverted instinct, and alienated the faithful from nature. Yet Mirbeau shared the admiration of fin-de-siecle zealots for the pariahs, tramps, and beggars rehabilitated in the Scripture. The personal trials of the misbegotten became an insignia of election. Those marginalized by society experienced damnation here below yet had glimpses of the bliss they hoped might await them somewhere higher. Yet it was not just in the less fortunate that Mirbeau sought evidence of the supra-rational. Generally neglected by critics, Mirbeau's interest in the unknown and the inexpressible informed virtually all of his writing and helped shape his views on artistic work and political struggle. For this reason, this study sets out to analyze the spiritual politics of the author. As Mirbeau was becoming involved in the escalating controversy over the Dreyfus case and cementing his alliance with prominent anarchists, he was also undergoing a uniquely personal spiritual evolution. This volume breaks new ground, exploring the author's secular metaphysic, charting his investigation of the spiritually transfiguring experience that redeems man's desolate existence. What begins as Mirbeau's indictment of Catholicism's death-glorifying ethos, his attempt to find refuge from life's pain in the blessedness of Nirvana, becomes a pursuit of mystical diffusion into the community of others. Showing how Mirbeau controverts the existence of a Christian god, this study argues that Mirbeau never abandons his exploration of life's mysteries, apprehensions of the infinite that come from a refinement of his art and an identification with his brothers.

Publisher: University of Delaware Press
ISBN: 9781611495614
Number of pages: 222
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 236 x 161 x 21 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Companion to Ziegler's The Nothing Machine (2007)-which describes the 19th-century journalist, novelist, and public intellectual Octave Mirbeau's solidarity with social outsiders such as the Impressionist painters, Alfred Dreyfus, and Oscar Wilde-the present volume scrutinizes Mirbeau's more personal impulses: his overlooked spiritual yearnings, his interest in mystery, and his search for the transcendental. Ziegler devotes chapters to various eras of Mirbeau's literary production, from his early autobiographical novels and his unfinished manuscript Dans le ciel to his anti-Christian novels (Jardin des supplices and Journal d'une femme de chambre) and his later fiction on cars, pets, and neurasthenia. Ziegler explores Mirbeau's desire to forgive, to express the ineffable, and to 'experience the ecstasy induced by speed, disorientation, novelty, leave-taking, and ego disintegration,' to quote from the introduction. A chronicle of several touchstone events, both political and creative, that shaped the French fin-de-siecle, this original, well-crafted study targets Mirbeau's aspirations of social justice as it traces his personal and professional shift from combative nihilism to spiritual equilibrium. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. * CHOICE *
Octave Mirbeau's Fictions of the Transcendental is the sole book-length study to trace the spiritual trajectory of Mirbeau, an author best known for his relentless struggle for social and political justice.... This extremely rich and complex book is perhaps best suited to connoisseurs of Octave Mirbeau's multifaceted literary production.... A more experienced student of Mirbeau's uvre will read Ziegler's latest book with immense gratitude that so much has been detected and skillfully examined through a psychoanalytical lens that had not been systematically applied to this prolific and prodigious author of fin-de-siecle France.... Mirbeau's case, masterfully analyzed by Ziegler in The Nothing Machine and Octave Mirbeau's Fictions of the Transcendental, serves as a caution to scholars who would content themselves with applying simple political grids to the writings of firebrand authors. * Nineteenth-Century French Studies *

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