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Balzacian Montage Configuring

Balzacian Montage Configuring

Allan H. Pasco
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 198
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  • Book Info
    Balzacian Montage Configuring
    Book Description:

    Balzac is the master not of collage - the construction of a whole from isolated pieces - but of montage: he regularly constructs wholes from other wholes.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7116-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Disjecta membra poetæ
    (pp. 3-21)

    As the post-structuralists have insisted on the separation between the sign and its referent, so they have also stressed discontinuity. ‘Fragmentary,’ ‘dismembered,’ ‘cut up,’ ‘parceled,’ ‘disintegrated,’ ‘deconstructed’… these words and synonyms fill recent criticism. Whether the critics have merely chosen works exemplifying such traits – concentrating on Joyce in preference to Proust, on Thomas Pynchon rather than García Márquez – or whether they follow Roland Barthes’s advice and break up the text themselves, ¹ or whether, finally, a disintegrating civilization is reflected in both works and their readers, there can be no question of the vision offered in today’s criticism....

  6. CHAPTER TWO Image Structure
    (pp. 22-45)

    We understand how expert critics can provide impeccable readings according to their particular methods and arrive at conclusions diametrically opposed to one another. When we look closely, it is usually possible to discover that the various readers have differed in goals, definitions, methods, or data, not to mention conflicting attitudes toward the validity of subject or object, thus accounting for diverging conclusions. It is easy, for example, to see why Lukács’s view of a novel would differ from that of, say, Emile Faguet, for they share almost nothing in their basic view of literature. The divergence among like-minded critics that...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Unifying Units
    (pp. 46-73)

    The transitions between the narrative blocks ofLa Comédie humaineare often either absent or so cursory that some skepticism is justified when one is confronted by Balzac’s repeated claims of having created an ‘edifice’ (V.110). If he has succeeded in making coherent wholes in some of his works, as I argued in the preceding chapter, there are others that include shocking inconsistencies and disconcerting gaps. The complaints about Balzac’s structure began rather early, as shown by the essays of Félix Davin, Balzac’s spokesman. Although Davin called for patience, surely the grace period has passed. The time has come when...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Conjoining the Disjoined
    (pp. 74-98)

    Collections of fiction seldom have more than the most rudimentary unity. If there are any characters reappearing in the volume’s stories, they are few in number and their reappearance has little significance. Usually, there is no plotline running through the collection, stringing the incorporated units into some sort of a continuum. Stylistic resemblance no deeper than that caused by a common author may provide a certain homogeneity, perhaps even a limited unity. Frequently, there is a frame – in the next chapter, I shall deal extensively with frames and how Balzac used them – but collective frames are suspect. All...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Unframing Frames
    (pp. 99-124)

    Narrative frames are analogically, if not directly, related to the frames and borders around many paintings. Consequently, a study of the frames of the visual arts provides useful perspectives on those of narratives. Frescoes are a good place to begin. Most often, of course, they were carefully planned, integral parts of walls and ceilings making use of architectural features like arches and columns to separate scenes or subjects. Plenty of examples exist, however, where the required architectural feature was not located exactly where the artist needed it. Judging from what we find in still extant frescoes, artists did not hesitate...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Configuring the Whole
    (pp. 125-148)

    In the first chapter, I introduced six principles which are operative in the organization ofLa Comédie humaine.They are by no means discrete, though I have attempted to separate them sufficiently to show how they function within Balzac’s masterpiece. It is time to look at them as a group, and this chapter will be concerned with the way they all work together to provide hisComédiewith coherence and unity.

    1. Narration is subordinated to description, though description is usually illustrated by one or more narrations.

    2. Description is keyed by one or more central images, which are subordinated to what...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 149-172)
  12. Index
    (pp. 173-186)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 187-191)