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Title:Severed Heads and Martyred Souls: Crime and Capital Punishment in French Romantic Literature
Author(s):Poulosky, Laura Jean
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Talbot, Emile J.
Department / Program:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Romance
Abstract:The introduction provides background information on the contributions of 18th-century writers to early 19th-century thought on the death penalty. The body of the dissertation investigates Romantic authors' common preoccupations with such issues as the psychology of prisoners, their judges, and the crowds at trials and executions; the necessity of expiation and the validity of society's vengeance against criminals; and the martyrdom of the condemned. A number of recurrent motifs in Romantic tales of death sentences are discussed, including the frequent use of the color red to evoke both past and future bloodshed; persistent foreshadowing that the protagonists' heads are doomed, which raises the question of human free will versus destiny; and references to the scheduled time of a past execution as a substitute for naming the bloody event itself. The conclusion treats some of the influences of early 19th-century texts on later works involving the death penalty, including the macabre short stories of Villiers de l'Isle-Adam and the engaged writing of Albert Camus. Thus, the dissertation demonstrates that reflecting upon the 19th-century treatment of capital punishment is important to scholars' understanding both of literary movements and of the political thought of our own time.
Issue Date:2001
Description:330 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3017185
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2001

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