Mariage, raison et sentiment chez Honoré de Balzac et Cao Xueqin. Le cas des Mémoires de deux jeunes mariées et du Rêve dans le Pavillon rouge

Kan Chia-Ping

Abstract


Marriage, Reason and Sentiment in Honoré de Balzac and Cao Xueqin. The Case of Letters of Two Brides and Dream of the Red Chamber. In both Balzac’s (1799–1850) Letters of Two Brides (1845) and Cao’s (1715– 1763) Dream of the Red Chamber (1742–1764), we have two very determined young girls, ready for marriage, who dream of a more passionate life. Lacking family support, they are alone and adopt opposite behavior patterns. The first (Louise de Chaulieu / Lin Daiyu) stays the same and wants a marriage of love, while the second (Renée de Maucombe / Xue Baochai) resigns herself to a marriage of convenience arranged by her family. Their two destinies diverge: one experiences great love but dies prematurely; the other experiences family happiness but is a prisoner in a life of conventions. However, behind these oppositions, their differences appear superficial and seems to come only from the social and political context. The two destinies are ultimately closely related, until they almost merge. Not only does the stubbornness of the two heroines in the realization of their dream lead them to a similar situation, both authors have also come up with a very similar technique when exposing the same surprising result. In Balzac, the two heroines become “Siamese twins” thanks to the system of correspondence. In Cao’s case, it is thanks to a particular narrative technique that constantly relates both heroeines to each other. Finally, via their common reflections on the influence of “bad novels” on young girls, Balzac and Cao deliver us “a novel about novels”. The novel is a language vessel, and at the same time a metalanguage that reflects on the linguistic structure of the work.

Keywords


Honoré de Balzac; Letters of Two Brides; Cao Xueqin; Dream of the Red Chamber; young girl; marriage; merge; novel

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12697/IL.2017.22.2.13

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ISSN 1406-0701 (print)
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