Fragmentation or Fusion: The Theme of Restoration in Nodier’s Masterwork, La Fée aux miettes

Charles Nodier’s longest fairytale, La Fée aux miettes, seems an “Anatomy” in Northrop Frye’s sense of the word—a medley of literary genres typical of “the self-conscious tradition” familiar to Nodier from Sterne’s Tristram Shandy and Diderot’s Neveu de Rameau, winding through a labyrinth and ending without a decisive ending. But Nodier repeatedly foreshadows his belief that the sixth “day” (epoch) of Creation has not yet been completed, and that, analogous to more ancient versions of the Biblical prophets, benevolent and superior beings have already descended to earth to help guide humans during their final phase of evolution. The early scenes where the Fée helps young students with their thèmes et versions link France with remote regions of the world, and advance God’s plan for completing the creation by uniting it.

Laurence M. Porter
Oberlin College