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Telling Madness and Masculinity in Maupassant’s

“Le Horla”
Philip G. Hadlock

G
UY DE MAUPASSANT’S “LE HORLA” (1886)1 constitutes per-
haps one of the most well-known and provocative tales of madness
in the nineteenth-century French tradition. The tale is compelling not
only for its thematics of madness, but also for its narrative situation: the nar-
rator of the tale’s first version sits in an asylum where a number of mental
health specialists have gathered to hear him tell them about his madness. The
narrative situation thus places special emphasis on the intersection between
storytelling and madness in the narrative construction of selfhood; it promises
to reveal through storytelling a primal encounter with an unexplainable oth-
erness, an out there (“hors là”) that cannot be reconciled with our models of
a sane and rational self. This sort of otherness has often been explained in
highly gendered terms. In one noteworthy example, Barbara Johnson suggests
that such a divergence from normal selfdom expresses woman’s exclusion
from our oldest and most deeply entrenched conceptions of man as the model
self that gives storytelling its shape and coherence:

the monstrousness of selfhood is intimately embedded within the question of female autobiogra-
phy. Yet how could it be otherwise, since the very notion of a self, the very shape of human life
stories, has always, from Saint Augustine to Freud, been modeled on the man?2

Perhaps, then, the thematics of Maupassant’s tale prove especially vexing


partly because they do not allow recourse to our traditional explanations of
otherness3: the narrator, who will tell his own story, is undeniably male, and,
according to his psychiatrist, an eloquent speaker (“‘Il parlera lui-même’”4).
Further, his madness attests an identification with, rather than an estrange-
ment from, that mythic male self that has conditioned Western thought. The
narrative strategies and textual design of Maupassant’s tale thus seem to chal-
lenge the conventions of the masculine normative model: the narrator’s mad-
ness is contextualized as a curious outgrowth of—rather than an aberration
from—that very principle that we continually invoke to lend normalcy to our
conceptions and narrative constructions of selfhood.
Maupassant compellingly links this inexplicable madness to storytelling
itself, the very process that develops and instills confidence in our cultural
conviction that maleness constitutes an unwavering model of the human self.

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The entire narrative situation is predicated upon the adumbration of what


Roland Barthes might call a “narrative contract” between the storyteller, the
alleged madman, and his narratees, the team of psychiatrists assembled to
hear his tale. The narrator is summoned solely for the purposes of narrating
his own story: “Messieurs, je sais pourquoi on vous a réunis ici et je suis prêt
à vous raconter mon histoire, comme m’en a prié mon ami le docteur Mar-
rande” (2:822).5 The tale’s structure calls attention in this respect to our very
motives for telling (and listening to) stories. The readers are lured into the
bond between narrator and narratees as interlopers who in some way supple-
ment the storytelling; yet their function cannot be defined solely in terms of
the inscribed narrative bond, from which they are excluded. Whereas the
terms of the narrative contract are clearly spelled out between the storyteller
and his listeners (“I know why you have come, and I will tell you the story
that you expect to hear”), the framing forces the tale’s readers to ponder their
place in this bond: if the psychiatrists have been convened to remedy in some
way the narrator’s illness through the storytelling experience, what is our role
in any “cure” that might result? what purposes does our reading serve? how
are we expected to deal with the story that we are about to read? Through its
design and strategies, the tale evokes key aspects of Freud’s case history of
Dora: the narrative situation beckons the reader to enact a desire that remains
latent, impelling, yet never actualized in the storytelling itself.6 Indeed, Mau-
passant forcefully articulates the inadequacy of the narrative contract to sat-
isfy any such desire. Despite his eloquence and narrative skill, the narrator is
unable to tell his story effectively; he ponders virtual versions of his story that
might have, could have or should have been told to produce the intended
hermeneutic effect:

Je sens, messieurs, que je vous raconte cela trop vite. Vous souriez, votre opinion est déjà faite:
“C’est un fou.” J’aurais dû vous décrire longuement cette émotion d’un homme qui, enfermé chez
lui, l’esprit sain, regarde, à travers le verre d’une carafe, un peu d’eau disparue pendant qu’il a
dormi. J’aurais dû vous faire comprendre cette torture renouvelée chaque soir et chaque matin, et
cet invincible sommeil, et ces réveils plus épouvantables encore. (2:825)

Storytelling in “Le Horla” is anything but a simple transmission of informa-


tion from narrator to narratee; it unfetters a questioning of its own practices.
It is not interested in the ostensible goal of persuading the inscribed listeners,
whose minds are made up from the start: “votre opinion est déjà faite.”
Instead, Maupassant moves his readers beyond this initial contract to the nar-
rator’s desire to tell something else, something that has been left behind, has
no narrative form, and cannot be included in the contract itself. By surrepti-

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tiously obligating its readers to deal with questions that the inscribed narra-
tees will not consider, the tale insists on dimensions of the narrative contract
that remain foreclosed to the narrator himself. It specifically positions its
readers such that their understanding of and engagement in the narrative is
conditioned by this impasse between what the narrator wants to communicate
to his listeners and the story that they are expecting. Thus, the tale draws its
readers into proximity with problematic questions pertaining specifically to
that “model male self” that lends coherence to our narrative constructions of
selfdom. It manipulates us into considering that dimension of maleness that
remains forever discordant with our very models of a rational self, but
because of this discordance allows us access to the symbolic structures in
which its rationality is rooted.
Maupassant’s development of this intriguing narrative scenario highlights
the curious visual underpinnings of the narrator’s strange tale, as well as their
significance with respect to the author’s narrative strategies. Indeed, the tale
places great importance on contradictions between the scopic and the verbal,
and in so doing it anticipates problematic aspects of questions that would soon
be raised by Freud, and later reprised by Lacan. One of the tale’s most
famous—and most significant—episodes has to do with the narrator’s scopic
engagement with his own body, that is, his viewing of his own reflected image
in the mirror. More precisely, the episode recounts an undoing or rescinding
of the narrator’s visual recourse to his own corporality. The mirror where the
narrator had been in the custom of studying his own reflection—”une très
grande armoire à glace […] où j’avais coutume de me regarder de la tête aux
pieds chaque fois que je passais devant” (2:828)—ceases to produce an image
of his body:

Je me dressai, en me tournant si vite que je faillis tomber. Eh bien! … On y voyait comme en


plein jour… et je ne me vis pas dans ma glace! Elle était vide, claire, profonde, pleine de lumière!
Mon image n’était pas dedans… Et j’étais en face… Je voyais le grand verre limpide du haut en
bas! (2:828)

The episode might quite reasonably be read as an allegory of the sorts of


typologies that Lacan has established to explain our recourse to the symbolic.
In purely Lacanian terms, the imaginary relates precisely to the specular expe-
rience that the mirror normally sustains; it is the realm of deceptive relations
in which the subject experiences itself as “other.” The symbolic represents an
overcoming of the “mirror stage” through our insertion into language, the
transindividual order of the signifier.7 In this respect, Maupassant’s narrator
might be said to undergo an especially dramatic passage from the imaginary

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to the symbolic: the realm of specular fascination completely evaporates from


his experience of his own selfdom, producing a pure expression of the “model
self” to which Johnson alludes. It is devoid of otherness, removed from alter-
ity, yet raises provocative questions about its own meaning. For Lacan, the
symbolic order of language is the law itself, the network of cultural schemata
and taxonomies that pre-exists the individual subject and conditions its entry
therein. Maupassant’s narrator is fully incorporated into the law by his identi-
fication with storytelling and his renunciation—however unwilling—of his
reflected image. He becomes the very referent of the law; it has no other
image. Consequently, the episode compels some very serious questions: how
is it useful to have recourse to the male body as a referent of the law when that
referent can have no visual significance?8 How do men come to an under-
standing of the “law of the phallus” without such visual foundation? Such
questions have been subsumed in many efforts to explain the nature of the
“shape” that male selfdom gives to symbolic structures. Luce Irigaray’s essen-
tialist feminist idiom famously refers to woman’s body as “l’horreur du rien
à voir,”9 and thus posits the insubstantiality of the female sex as an obstacle
or threat to our “phallocentric” constructions of meaning. In Maupassant’s
typology, any such horror of nothing to see specifically involves the male
body’s exclusion from visual relations as a necessary precondition to narrative
coherence. It is thus not surprising that the tale insists upon the narrator’s
dwindling corporal presence as a constant undercurrent in the storytelling
experience. The primary symptom of the narrator’s malady, this relentless
emaciation is underscored in the opening frame—“Il était fort maigre, d’une
maigreur de cadavre, comme sont maigres certains fous que ronge une
pensée” (2:822)—and in the inscribed narrator’s account of his own descent
into madness—“Je maigrissais d’une façon inquiétante, continue” (2:824).
Storytelling takes form in the narrative as a means of replacing the realm of
visual relations from which the narrator protests he has been excluded. Seen
in the mirror, he has no relation to that law that his body has been designated
to represent; indeed, he has no presence at all. In storytelling, he projects this
protest into the signifying chain where it becomes engrained in the dilemma
presented to the tale’s readers.
The Horla might best be conceived, then, as a strange leftover in the
process of incorporating maleness into the law. It leaves no visual trace, yet it
draws us to that vacant space in the mirror—“pleine de lumière,” “limpide du
haut en bas”—that replaces the narrator’s body as a site of scopic fascination,
or rather, a scopic void that must be patched by narrative relations. This
“Light Continent”—the constant and unwavering foil to the feminine Dark

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Continent—becomes the emblem of an underlying madness embedded in the


signifying chain as a result of this maneuvering.10 Our sole function as read-
ers consists in developing the metonymic chain of desire that originated in the
cultural command to move the narrator beyond primary narcissism: his desire
for his own body in the mirror.11 He would surely return to the narcissistic
contemplation of his own image in the mirror had the Horla’s presence not
been made apparent to him:

Comme j’eus peur! Puis voilà que tout à coup je commençai à m’apercevoir dans une brume, au
fond du miroir, dans une brume comme à travers une nappe d’eau; et il me semblait que cette eau
glissait de gauche à droite, lentement, rendant plus précise mon image de seconde en seconde […]
Je pus enfin me distinguer complètement ainsi que je fais chaque jour en me regardant.
Je l’avais vu! L’épouvante m’en est restée qui me fait encore frissonner. (2:828)

The thoroughly misoviristic experience where the narrator discovers his place
in the “law of the phallus” suffices to preclude any further narcissistic inquiry;
he turns at this point to storytelling, an edification of his acceptance of the law
through the psychoanalytic bond between analysand and analyst: “Le lende-
main j’étais ici, où je priai qu’on me gardât” (2:828). In turning to the psy-
choanalytic context of storytelling, the narrator renounces his desire for his
own image. His reflection now evokes a primal horror or abject fear encoded
in his confrontation with the vacant mirror. Julia Kristeva’s remarks on abjec-
tion thus seem to have special pertinence in the case of this scenario. For Kris-
teva, abject fear signals a “narcissistic crisis” that is linked to the fragility of
the law: the subject that continually yearns for its own image threatens the
symbolic economy; it points to the symbolic order’s insufficiency in attend-
ing to all of its needs. Nowhere is this threat more potently embodied than in
the cadaver, whose “fallen,” irremediably other body confronts us not merely
with death, but with the frailty of our own identity within the symbolic econ-
omy.12 In Maupassant’s scenario, the narrator, a speaking cadaver, re-activates
an abject fear that discloses an aporia in this typology: it comes from his
desire not to challenge the symbolic order, but to be better integrated into it,
to reinforce his frail connection to the rationality of the law and its promise to
attend to his needs and psychic drives. This desire, the only witness of the
symbolic’s triumph over the imaginary, acts as an enduring residue of that
pre-symbolic moment. It cannot be appeased, given that it is itself rooted in
the abjection of the narrator’s entry into the law; rather, it signals to the tale’s
readers the methods through which it was produced and carries over into our
reading experience. In this sense, the narrative summons our readerly desire
as a means of doing something more with the narrator’s unfulfillable desire,

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something that cannot be accomplished in the story itself. It might certainly


be argued for this reason that “Le Horla” deals primarily with the problem of
masculine desire, its problematic meaning in Western consciousness, and its
potency as a basis for relation itself. Indeed, Maupassant’s tale may be even
more provocative than Freudian, Lacanian or feminist typologies in its propo-
sition that masculine desire derives from and acquires meaning in the inerad-
icable barrier between the model male self and any means that men might
have to access or participate in that selfdom. Maupassant’s cadaver-narrator
threatens not only our identity within the symbolic economy, but its very
premise. His madness and the abject fear that he experiences and inspires can
only be explained as the direct result of having participated in and fully com-
plied with our cultural mechanisms for establishing the rational self.
This sort of proposition and its implications for textuality come to the
forefront in Maupassant’s account of the narrator’s efforts to circumvent the
visual access that is denied to him. The mirror episode is preceded by a pair
of ruses intended to convince the narrator of the defectiveness of scopic rela-
tions, as well as to motivate his desire for the law. The purported goal is to
assure the narrator that something unseen is accountable for the “malaises
bizarres et inexplicables” (2:823) that he has been experiencing: “Alors j’eus
recours à des ruses pour me convaincre que je n’accomplissais point ces actes
inconscients” (2:824). He proceeds by placing items both pleasing and dis-
pleasing to his tastes by his bedside before going to sleep:

Je plaçai un soir, à côté de la carafe, une bouteille de vieux bordeaux, une tasse de lait dont j’ai
horreur, et des gâteaux au chocolat que j’adore.
Le vin et les gâteaux demeurèrent intacts. Le lait et l’eau disparurent. (2:824)

This initial ruse develops the narrator’s distrust of the scopic while maneu-
vering him toward textuality itself as the dimension in which the goals of the
ruses may be accomplished. The subsequent ruse is more strongly motivated
to produce visual evidence of the agent responsible for the disappearing milk
and water:

Je me servis alors d’une ruse nouvelle contre moi-même. J’enveloppai tous les objets aux-
quels il fallait infailliblement toucher avec des bandelettes de mousseline blanche et je les recou-
vris encore avec une serviette de batiste.
Puis, au moment de me mettre au lit, je me barbouillai les mains, les lèvres et les moustaches
avec de la mine de plomb. (2:825)

The episode almost explicitly presents itself as a scene of writing: in placing


white (blank) sheets over the bedside surface and applying “ink” to the narra-

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tor’s hands, lips, and mustache, it fuses the narrator’s motives for executing
the ruses with the production of a text. Yet the resulting text is unreadable; it
bears no marks, no material evidence of contact with the narrator’s body,
although the outcome of the second ruse is otherwise identical to that of the
first: “À mon réveil, tous les objets étaient demeurés immaculés bien qu’on y
eût touché, car la serviette n’était point posée comme je l’avais mise; et, de
plus, on avait bu de l’eau et du lait” (2:825). This experience—the inexorable
scopic resistance of the blank sheets—brings the narrator into full recognition
of the law, preparing the mirror episode that follows. The narrator’s ultimate
acceptance of the opacity of the text re-incorporates him into the schema of
rational relations for which he had hoped: “Tout à coup, le miracle cessa. On
ne touchait plus à rien dans ma chambre. C’était fini. J’allais mieux,
d’ailleurs” (2:825).
The episode is striking if only due to its refusal to answer even implicitly
the questions that it has prepared. It succeeds in its goal to dispel the irrational
thoughts that have plagued the narrator, but what is the meaning of this suc-
cess if it requires him to “fool himself” about his own place in the law? How
does the blank text left over in this process compensate for the trickery that
was needed to effect the return of “reason” to his experience? What unwritten
story does it really tell? In the allegorical schema of Maupassant’s universe,
the blank sheet makes real for us that contract with the signifying order that
underlies our understanding of maleness. Unwritten and unsigned, it conceals
the mysteries of that curious moment in the epistemic development of West-
ern culture where maleness became—to borrow Lacan’s terms once again—
“phallic,” that is, a valueless space in the symbolic economy. The phallic, as
Jacqueline Rose has explained,13 is best understood as a space that supports
and sustains symbolic activity, yet it has no story of its own: it is always
already known, and always already there as a precondition to and not a result
of storytelling. It sustains the masculine’s adherence to the law through its
exclusion of any inquiry into that desire that the narrator left behind when he
turned to storytelling.
The Horla comes into our consciousness as a strange surplus in the econ-
omy of desire, or more precisely a supremely irrational byproduct of Man’s
desire to be included in the symbolic order that purports to tell his story, yet
reduces him to a mere agent of transmission. The Horla struggles to work its
way into visual relations; it calls upon us to look at it, yet it has no referent,
and, one might say, no signified either: we have no cognitive apparatus to
account for it, or to eliminate it. It can only be conceived as a perversion in
the epistemic constellations upon which we rely to understand our own sto-

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ries. In this respect, it stands in striking counterpoint to conventional under-


standing of male primacy in phallic culture: it “appears” in the mirror as a
substitute for the visual proportions of the narrator’s body, yet it is not reduced
to a state of “to-be-looked-at-ness,” the neologism that Laura Mulvey creates
to describe the “traditional exhibitionist role”14 assigned to women in filmed
narratives. The Horla’s most remarkable aspect relates instead to its state of
“not-to-be-looked-at-ness,” to its utter lack of visible dimensions, no matter
how insistently we seek them. It challenges conventional understanding of
maleness in its postulation of men’s exclusion from visual inspection in the
construction of desire. In fact, one might wonder if the Horla does not repre-
sent a desire to question the ruses from which it was born, and upon which our
understandings of masculinity are based. In Western culture, our most funda-
mental grasp of maleness is predicated upon the Judeo-Christian assertion that
Man is made in God’s image; the male body promises a perfect identification
with an otherwise invisible and unattainable divine dimension. The Horla rad-
icalizes man’s very relation to that divine image: it generates further desire for
the law through its very rescinding of the law’s premise. Man’s realization
that he is made in the image of a God who has no image does not extinguish,
but motivates his desire to participate, through narration, in a system of law
where he can never be represented.
Narration itself thus serves as an indicator of its own confused place in the
remedy that it proposes for the tale’s insoluble dilemmas. The Horla promotes
narrative relations both in bringing the narrator to Doctor Marrande for the
purposes of telling his story, and in the course of treatment that results from
this initial visit. The doctor responds to his patient’s narrative by replicating
the ruses that prompted the initial storytelling:

Le docteur Marrande, après avoir longtemps douté, se décida à faire, seul, un voyage dans mon
pays.
Trois de mes voisins, à présent, sont atteints comme je l’étais. Est-ce vrai?
Le médecin répondit: “C’est vrai!”
Vous leur avez conseillé de laisser de l’eau et du lait chaque nuit dans leur chambre pour voir si
ces liquides disparaîtraient. Ils l’ont fait. Ces liquides ont-ils disparu comme chez moi?
Le médecin répondit avec une gravité solennelle: “Ils ont disparu.” (2: 828-9)

Narration replicates itself in its own efforts to arrive at the truth behind it. It
assimilates the ruses that brought the initial storyteller to its promise of truth in
its projections of additional storytellings, each of which renews this promise of
truth to be realized in an upcoming narration. This highlights the purposes that
Freud associates with narration in his conception of the bond between analyst

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and analysand. Freud observes in his treatise on melancholia that the benefits
of psychoanalytic therapy rely to a large extent on fostering and validating nar-
ration without concern for when or where its truth might be expounded:

It would be […] fruitless from a scientific and a therapeutic point of view to contradict a patient
who brings these accusations against his ego. He must surely be right in some way and be describ-
ing something that is as it seems to him to be. Indeed, we must at once confirm some of his state-
ments without reservation. (14:246)

It is the production of narrative and the encouragement to continue to narrate


that take precedence over the telic function of the resulting narrative, that is,
whether or not it relates to events that actually took place. Narration serves as
its own truth through its guarantee of the storyteller’s confidence in its capac-
ity to satisfy that drive that prompted a story: in telling a story, you are rec-
ognizing the primacy of the symbolic order of language. The fact that numer-
ous new storytellers—the narrator’s neighbors and Doctor Marrande
himself—have been created serves as the only necessary indication of the
treatment’s efficacy. The doctor himself becomes a mere puppet in the tale’s
concluding section, echoing the narrator’s ongoing need in his repetition of
the circumstances that occasioned it.
The enduring powers of Maupassant’s tale in our imaginary surely testify
to its forceful questioning of our cultural codes, and of language itself. “Le
Horla” does not simply present its tale to us, its readers; it aggressively asserts
its own dissatisfaction with the most obvious conclusions that it proposes,
compelling us to look beyond them. In this respect, the tale’s enigmatic and
disturbing conclusion vividly illustrates what Angela Moger has shown to be
the purpose of framing in Maupassant’s narrative tactics: “the function of the
frame, then, would be to undercut the framed, to make clear that the central
narrative’s appearance of substantiality is an optical illusion, and to mock the
pretentions of the conventional reading of such a story.”15 In this particular
case, the framing demonstrates an illusion that is central to storytelling itself:
the illusion of the masculine’s primacy in phallic culture. The purpose of the
tale, then, might be to “mock the pretentions” of citing maleness as that which
has never been other in so-called “male-dominated” culture, and of proclaim-
ing the male self to be that which has no relation to the hors là and its
impelling challenges to model selfdom. Maupassant seems to propose, rather,
that the male self is that which is most radically discentered in symbolic rela-
tions precisely because of our confidence in its model stature.

Texas Christian University

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Notes

1. This article will focus solely on the 1886 version of “Le Horla.”
2. Barbara Johnson, A World of Difference (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1987), 154. For addi-
tional examples of this line of reasoning, see Elaine Showalter’s The Female Malady (New
York: Pantheon, 1985), and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic
(New Haven: Yale UP, 1984).
3. Gerald Prince has pointed out that the tale’s very title, and thus also the name of the inexpli-
cable being, invite speculation on gender as a determining factor in the nature of its mean-
ing: it may be read “Le or La.” See “‘Le Horla,’ Sex, and Colonization,” in Alteratives (Lex-
ington, KY: French Forum, 1993), 182.
4. Guy de Maupassant, Contes et nouvelles (Paris: Gallimard, 1974-79), 2:822.
5. On Barthes’ conception of narrative contracts and their operation in intersubjective relations,
see S/Z (Paris: Seuil, 1970), 95-96.
6. The case history of Dora is the subject of Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria
(1905). Freud observes in the course of his patient’s treatment that “[t]he patients’ inability
to give an ordered history of their life in so far as it coincides with the history of their illness
is not merely characteristic of the neurosis. It also possesses great theoretical significance.”
This reflection on the need to arrive at a coherent life story leads Freud to his first recogni-
tion of the importance of transference. See The Standard Edition of the Complete Psycho-
logical Works of Sigmund Freud, James Strachey, trans. and ed. (London: Hogarth Press,
1953-74), 7:16-18. For further analysis of the significance of Dora’s case history, see Philip
Rieff’s introduction to Dora (New York: Collier, 1963), 7-20, and Steven Marcus, “Freud
and Dora: Story, History, Case History,” in Representations: Essays on Literature and Soci-
ety (New York: Random House, 1976), 247-310.
7. On these Lacanian concepts, see “Le Stade du miroir” and “L’Instance de la lettre dans l’in-
conscient ou la raison depuis Freud,” in Écrits (Paris: Seuil, 1966), 93-100 and 493-528.
8. Peter Brooks offers a thorough study of Western culture’s preference for the female rather
than the male body as a site of spectatorship. For Brooks, this structuring of our scopic rela-
tions derives specifically from the notion of the male body as “the norm” in phallic culture:
“if the male body in patriarchy becomes the norm, the standard against which one measures
otherness—and thus creates the enigma of woman—one might expect the male body to be
more openly displayed and discussed. But a moment’s reflection allows us to see that the par-
adox is merely apparent. Precisely because it is the norm, the male body is veiled from
inquiry, taken as the agent and not the object of knowing: the gaze is ‘phallic,’ its object is
not.” See Body Work (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1993), 15.
9. Luce Irigaray, Ce Sexe qui n’en est pas un (Paris: Minuit, 1977), 25.
10. For a more complete analysis of this point, see Philip Hadlock, “The Light Continent: On
Melancholia and Masculinity in Maupassant’s ‘Lui?’ and ‘Une famille,’” in Style, 35.1
(Spring 2001):79-98.
11. Lawrence Schehr, who has very convincingly analyzed representations of men’s bodies in lit-
erature, similarly notes a need to eliminate male beauty from our understanding of mas-
culinity in Western consciousness. Schehr concludes that “beauty needs to disappear from the
constructions of the man, of manliness, and indeed of masculinity as a whole” in order that
the male body be conceived as a site of power. See Parts of an Andrology (Stanford: Stan-
ford UP, 1997), 79.
12. Kristeva writes: “Le cadavre (cadere, tomber), ce qui a irrémédiablement chuté, cloaque et
mort, bouleverse plus violemment encore l’identité de celui qui s’y confronte comme un
hasard fragile et fallacieux […]. Le cadavre—vu sans Dieu et hors de la science—est le
comble de l’abjection.” See Pouvoirs de l’horreur (Paris: Seuil, 1980), 11-12. On narcis-
sism’s relationship to the abject, see also 21-22.
13. See Rose’s introduction to Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the École Freudienne, ed.
Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose (London: Macmillan, 1982), 43.
14. Laura Mulvey, Visual and Other Pleasures (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1989), 19.
15. Angela Moger, “That Obscure Object of Narrative,” in Yale French Studies, 63 (1982): 134.

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