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Gaïd Girard, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu : Une écriture fantastique

Paris : Honoré Champion, 2005, 459 pages
Laurent Lepaludier
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Gaïd Girard, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu : Une écriture fantastique, Paris : Honoré Champion, 2005, 459 p.

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Auteurs étudiés :

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
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1Gaïd Girard’s book in French aims at examining Le Fanu’s writing from several critical approaches, allowing for a wealth of interpretations. Although it mainly concentrates on Le Fanu’s novels, it also deals with his tales and short stories to a great extent. The first chapters contextualise the production of the stories. The role played by The Dublin University Magazine (chapter I) was essential not only for publication but also because of Le Fanu’s and DUM’s same interest in European culture and the development of Irish literature. The “spectres of History” (chapter II) which haunt Le Fanu’s works often mix History and Irish legends – this characterizes his particular treatment of History and literature. The question of genre is also studied (chapter III) in reference to Irish legends and literary History, particularly the influence of the gothic tale. Chapter IV explains how Le Fanu uses the form and content of Irish legends and gives them the shape of the short story with a definite interest in literary style. The focus then shifts to landscapes (chapter V) with connections to the gothic sublime and the picturesque, and to haunted houses (chapter VI). Studies of specific novels and stories examine, for instance, hallucination, distancing from the gothic, and women’s and men’s spaces. The theme of the pact with the devil (chapter VII) is treated with distance by Le Fanu who plays with gothic stereotypes, and the chapter further focuses on the figure of the double. Chapter VIII, entitled “Masks”, approaches the stories with references to the carnivalesque tradition, to the sensational, the terrifying grotesque, and the fantastic grotesque. The chapter on mesmerism and modernity examines the way the stories combine the influences of mesmerism and new scientific developments. Le Fanu shows a deep interest in the “psychological fantastic”. The following chapter, which deals with paranoia, continues in that line. Chapter XI is concerned with female characters and focuses on the notions of desire, sexuality and hysteria, exploring the depths of the fantastic and the human mind. A last chapter, on mirrors and portraits, offers reflections on art and writing. This well-researched and well-written book is complete with extensive notes, bibliography and index, and will be a reference not only for readers of Le Fanu, but also for short story critics as well as those interested in the fantastic and its motifs. The numerous references to historical and literary background, the genre studies, the close analyses and the quality of the style are excellent reasons to read this book.

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Référence électronique

Laurent Lepaludier, « Gaïd Girard, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu : Une écriture fantastique »Journal of the Short Story in English [En ligne], 48 | Spring 2007, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2007, consulté le 27 novembre 2022. URL :

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Laurent Lepaludier

Université d’Angers

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