Metamorphoses of Oedipus in Modern French Literature. From an Intellectual Drama to a Psychoanalytical Reflection on Ideal Love




Oedipus, myth, Jean Cocteau, Jacqueline Harpman, André Gide, Alain Robbe-Grillet


Oedipus Rex, a tragedy created twenty-five centuries ago, is still a source of inspiration for many writers. However, the overall message of modern interpretations of the Oedipus myth differs considerably from the message of Sophocles’ play; these works are no longer the stories of a man punished by gods for his haughtiness (hybris). André Gide modernizes Sophocles’ tragedy, transforming it into a lesson in secular humanism. The play by Jean Cocteau focuses on the transition from ignorance to awareness. Alain Robbe-Grillet creates an anti-story about the contemporary version of Oedipus, whose lot is determined, not by gods, but by chance and unconscious desires. As for the psychoanalytical interpretation of the myth by Jacqueline Harpman, it is first of all the reflection on ideal love, fully realized in an incestuous relationship between the son and his mother.


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