The Power of Tableaux Vivants in Zola: The Underside of the Image

Abstract : Although they have already been the particular focus of scholarly attention, the series of tableaux vivants at the heart of Zola's La Curée (1871) still continue to fascinate and raise questions. Like any image constructed by means of a work of literature, "The Loves of Narcissus and Echo" draw upon several different interwoven discursive and iconic modes which both contradict and substantiate each other. Usually analysed solely for their narrative value (as a "mise en abyme" of the novel), these tableaux vivants provide much more than a mere thematic and structural framework. The eroticism of the performance and that of the associated textua witticism (which provides the link between the silent images and those words) is enhanced by the much more disturbing eroticism of a lurking image which is both denied and revealed through the dressing room scene, bringing the chapter to a virtual close. It is a far from attractive affair of under layers which is brought to the fore in this scene.
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Contributor : Arnaud Rykner <>
Submitted on : Friday, October 7, 2011 - 10:51:09 AM
Last modification on : Friday, March 24, 2017 - 9:36:03 AM
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Arnaud Rykner. The Power of Tableaux Vivants in Zola: The Underside of the Image. Image and Narrative : Online Magazine of the Visual Narrative, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2011, 12 (3), pp.98-112. ⟨halshs-00619079v2⟩

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