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Science et Surnaturel dans le Cycle de Durtal de Huysmans

Sibourg, Eléonore (2015) Science et Surnaturel dans le Cycle de Durtal de Huysmans. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.52949) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:52949)

Language: English

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This thesis examines interactions between science and the supernatural in Huysmans’s Durtal tetralogy. The protagonist, whose aesthetic and philosophical starting point is naturalism, converts to Catholicism. This unusual conversion reflects social upheavals contemporary with Huysmans’s cycle of novels. In the late nineteenth century, science, emerging as symbol of new hope and salvation for humanity, has in a sense replaced religion. The Durtal cycle catalogues the disorders generated by this replacement, and represents the creation of a new order more suited to Durtal’s persona, through deconstruction of existing codes and beliefs. Thus is shaped the intellectual and aesthetic matrix of the four novels. Pathology is at the intersection of the interactions between science and the supernatural, the various components of which constitute the subject of the three substantive chapters of the thesis. Figuring social degeneration and the creation of imaginary medical worlds founded on contamination, Huysmans’s text explores the boundaries between science and religion, thus offering a new cosmogony constructed around a concept of mystic substitution associated with Catholicism. Analysis of these textual explorations is followed by a study of the body and the soul as the two primary principles contributing to the conflicts articulated in Huysmans’s work. The conversion processes to which the body and the soul are subjected help to build renewed relationships between the material and the spiritual, the visible and the invisible. Writing thus appears as the result of an alchemical quest in which opposites can ultimately be reunited. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the development of the novel form, subject to so many contradictory influences. The pharmaceutical quality – in Derridean terms – of writing ends this crisis and restores the author’s authority, making of the Durtal tetralogy a work that is characterised at one and the same time by its naturalism and by its mysticism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Read, Peter
Thesis advisor: Duffy, Larry
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.52949
Additional information: The author of this thesis has requested that it be held under closed access. We are sorry but we will not be able to give you access or pass on any requests for access. 24/05/22
Uncontrolled keywords: Pathology; Mystic Naturalism; Science; Religion; Conversion; Novel; Huysmans.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DC France
P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2015 14:00 UTC
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2022 09:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Sibourg, Eléonore.

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