Synopses & Reviews
This book interprets Mon Faust
and explores the differences between Valéry's and Goethe's treatments of the Faust figure. The author shows by close analysis how Valéry opposes a Cartesian, anti-Pascalian Faust to Goethe's romantically flawed hero. The title of the project conceived by Valéry's Faust, The Mind's Body
-part autobiography, part metaphysical treatise-embodies the Cartesian dilemma ironically illustrated by the Mon Faust
fragments: the misfortunes of the thinking essence, the cogito
, in its subjugation to the body.
The first three chapters examine the Cartesian character of a Faust engaged in superhuman but vain attempts to reconcile the intellect and the libido. A fourth chapter discusses the differences between Goethe's and Valéry's protagonists and as well between Goethe and his Faust. Throughout the book the author explores Valéry's linguistic experimentation, which, through charades, paranomasia, onomastics, and etymological puns, brings into full play the mystifying and mythologizing aspects of language. To resolve the stylistic problems associated with this fragmentary work the author adapts the tone of his exegesis to the diverse stylistic levels of Mon Faust. His analysis illuminates the Cartesian potential inherent in Valéry's protagonist.
Originally published in 1976.
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