Linguistic Science and Mystification in Prosper Mérimée’s “Lokis”
Throughout “Lokis,” Mérimée evokes relationships between languages and their irregularities, death and disappearance, translation, and evolution over time. He also places an emphasis on the transition from spoken tongues to literary languages. It is argued that all of these topics reflect major themes in “Lokis.” Emphasis is placed on the way in which nineteenth-century linguistic science, influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution, is used by Mérimée to explain the violent actions of the protagonist, Michel Szémioth, and to account for human violence more generally. Just as the Indo-European languages descend from a common ancestor, so do man and beast.