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Title:A Woman on the Mind: Aspects of Monomaniacal Love (D'annunzio, Flaubert, Wharton)
Author(s):Finucci, Valeria
Department / Program:Comparative and World Literature
Discipline:Comparative and World Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Comparative
Abstract:This study is a comparative reading of three novels on sentimental education: G. Flaubert's L'(')Education sentimentale, G. D'Annunzio's Il Piacere, and E. Wharton's The Age of Innocence. It chronicles the love obsessions of three young men as they search for the female embodiment of the mother-sister-friend-lover image projected by their imaginations.
Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the heroes' monomaniacal love in order to map their progressive journeys toward confining captivity and neurotic self-absorption. The woman on the mind of our protagonists is first examined as a courtly lady of times long past, then as a Madonna-like figure embodying their romantic idea of the religion of love, and subsequently as a mother-substitute. The last section outlines some of the developments incurred by such one-sided quests and ravaging compulsions.
The lifelong obsession of Frederic Moreau in L'Education sentimentale for the angelical Mme Arnoux proves as destructive as the fascination Andrea Sperelli has, in Il Piacere, for the unapproachable Maria Ferres. In The Age of Innocence, Newland Archer finds that love, while it gratifies deep-felt yearnings, is too unsettling for his comformist nature.
In times past, literature has offered many examples of young men achieving their sentimental education through a discipline of feelings and an acceptance of destiny. From Flaubert on, though, the theme of failure, disillusion and annihilation pervades man's life. Frederic Moreau is not strengthened by his defeats, nor does he abandon his dreams. He simply refuses to learn. In D'Annunzio the lack of growth is more evident since his Don Juanesque creation, while "loving" a lot, is unable to feel. In time, when he can no more regulate his unrelenting demands of the flesh, he will opt for a chastising immobility. Wharton's hero is left to experience how the superstructure of societal obligation supersedes sentimental freedom in a close-knit world. Puzzled, he withdraws into the seclusion of his self-created prison. Modern Bildungsromane often offer frustrating conclusions: the heroes--who by definition are supposed to learn--remain for their lifetime ungebildet.
Issue Date:1983
Description:261 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1983.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8324550
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1983

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