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The Metamorphoses of the Self

The Metamorphoses of the Self: The Mystic, the Sensualist, and the Artist in the Works of Julien Green

John M. Dunaway
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 128
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  • Book Info
    The Metamorphoses of the Self
    Book Description:

    American writer Julien Green's (1900--1998) origins, artistic motivation, and identity was a source of mystery and confusion even for those that most fêted him. The first non-French national to be elected to the Académie française, Green authored several novels (The Dark Journey, The Closed Garden, Moira, Each Man in His Darkness,and theDixietrilogy), a four-volume autobiography (The Green Paradise, The War at Sixteen, Love in AmericaandRestless Youth), and his famousDiary.

    In this study, John. M Dunaway begins with an examination of the autobiographical context of Julien Green's works, in which the duality of mystic and sensualist is quite clearly polarized. He then proceeds through a selected series of Green's fictional works in an attempt to show the birth and nature of the third self as a personal myth of the artist. He then considers the fiction in chronological order with the intention of demonstrating the evolution of the myth of the third self in Green's career.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6266-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The warm reception that greeted the publication of Julien Green’s latest novel,L’Autre, in February of 1971 signaled the beginning of a year of unaccustomed notoriety for this often neglected figure in contemporary French letters. By April the press was alive with talk of Julien Green for the French Academy. The problem was that Green was an American citizen, a status that he would automatically forfeit if he were to request French citizenship. The Academy submitted the problem to President Pompidou, who declared Green to be already, in effect, a French citizen by virtue of his contributions to the literature...

  6. Chapter One Journal and Autobiography: The First Two Selves
    (pp. 7-30)

    TheJournalof Julien Green is a work of widely diversified themes. It records Green’s personal impressions of the important literary figures he has known: Mauriac, Malraux, Bernanos, Cocteau, and especially Maritain and Gide. One also finds the author’s reactions to his voluminous reading, which ranges from esoteric religious writings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to American and English novelists of the nineteenth century. Among hislivres de chevetmust be included the Bible, Pascal, Péguy, Keats, Baudelaire. The author touches on music, as well as important ideas on esthetics and the relationship between art and morality. But the...

  7. Chapter Two The Pilgrim’s Descent: Le Voyageur sur la terre
    (pp. 31-44)

    In the fictional context of Julien Green’s works, we find again the two rival aspects of the Greenian personality which dominated in the autobiographical context, the mystic and the sensualist. The duality of mystical and erotic themes characterizes the fiction to just as great an extent as the nonfiction. It is in this context, however, that Green begins to discover a third self and to open up an entirely new reality for which his career as a writer has destined him. The myth of themoi profondis incarnated in his fiction in such a way as to transcend the...

  8. Chapter Three Self-Discovery in L’Autre sommeil
    (pp. 45-55)

    The publication ofL’Autre sommeilin 1931 marked a significant development in Julien Green’s writing career. After much worry and inner turmoil, Green had finally brought himself to treat the subject that was the most terrifying to him, the problem of homosexuality. Gide, who had likedLe Voyageur sur la terre, had encouraged Green to be as open and frank as possible on sexual inversion in his writings. Despite Gide’s complaint thatL’Autre sommeilwould be regarded as the story of a Platonic love rather than an authentically homosexual experience, the book was an important step away from Green’s characteristic...

  9. Chapter Four Escape and Deliverance in Le Visionnaire and Minuit
    (pp. 56-74)

    Le Visionnaire(1934) andMinuit(1936) explore in depth the motive of escape in Julien Green’s fiction.Minuitwas actually begun first and set aside temporarily for the writing ofLe Visionnaire, which Green finished in late 1933. In fact, Green reveals in theJournal(p. 121) that he sometimes alternated his work on the two novels during 1933. In both novels the author permits himself to become increasingly engrossed in the realm of the fantastic. Jacques Maritain was disturbed by the preponderance of the dream world inLe Visionnaireand may have sensed the dangerous direction that his friend’s...

  10. Chapter Five The Violence of the South: Moïra and Sud
    (pp. 75-90)

    The period of Julien Green’s career followingMinuitwas dominated by two important events that occured in 1939: Germany’s invasion of France and Green’s reconversion to the Catholic faith. He was obliged to spend the duration of World War II in the United States, and despite his American citizenship, the humiliation of France and the loss of his whole way of life in Paris caused him the grief that was suffered by all true Frenchmen at the time. The writing he did during his wartime “exile” reflects how gravely he was shaken by the course of world events. He was...

  11. Chapter Six The Concept of the Third Self
    (pp. 91-100)

    If Julien Green is not simply a mystic, if he is not most profoundly a sensualist, then his most nearly integral identity lies in a third self. The image of the mystic was made abundantly clear in hisJournaland the sensualist found its most complete revelation in the autobiography. I have given close attention to some of Green’s fictional works with the intention of providing documentation for an interpretation of the third Greenian self, the one which owes its very existence to the fictional reality.

    In theJournal, Green states repeatedly that his novels constitute his true diary. Modern...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 101-106)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 107-110)
  14. Index
    (pp. 111-114)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 115-115)