Balzac's Purloined Postcards: Mises en Abyme and the Poetics of Death in Albert Savarus

This study examines the tensions between real and metaphorical death, between mimesis and poiesis, in Albert Savarus (1842). On the one hand, Albert Savarus is a self-consciously literary elegy, ending with the duchess immortalized as a portrait on Albert's desk and Albert burying himself symbolically in a monastery. On the other hand, Rosalie actually kills love and none of the characters has fulfilment or future. This study, therefore, asks if the mises en abyme of Albert Savarus suggest that death is so ubiquitous that it goes unnoticed like the purloined letter or, like Derrida's Postcard, and Francesca's news of her bereavement, so elusive, that it never actually arrives. (OH)
Heathcote, Owen
Volume 1997-1998 Fall-Winter; 26(1-2): 66-79