Cheating at Narrating: Back to Mérimée's `La Partie de trictrac'

Mérimée's "La Partie de trictrac" seems to suggest a tension between psychological content (a linear tale of cheating and remorse) and the narrative technique, which seems to mock story-telling and both exploit and subvert narrative expectations. The apparent tension can be resolved by seeing two centers to the tale. The ellipsis of the moment of cheating and its motivation enables Mérimée, using ambiguous focalization and repetitive narration, to return repeatedly to this key moment and its pessimistic implications, while at the same time sustaining curiosity about the final outcome of the tale. The Captain, as narrator of the embedded tale, is not just functional but provides both contrast with the protagonist and a perspective on his fate that anticipates the ironic structure of later tales by Mérimée. (PWMC)
Cogman, Peter W. M
Volume 1997-1998 Fall-Winter; 26(1-2): 80-90