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Nerval’s Voyage en Orient : the quest for a literary sign Griffiths, Frances 1983

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NERVAL'S VOYAGE EN ORIENT: THE QUEST FOR A LITERARY SIGN by  FRANCES GRIFFITHS B.A., THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER  OF ARTS  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of French)  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October 1983 @  FRANCES GRIFFITHS, 1983  In p r e s e n t i n g  t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of  requirements f o r an advanced degree at the  the  University  of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make it  f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference  and  study.  I further  agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may department or by h i s or her  be  granted by  the head o f  representatives.  my  It is  understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain  s h a l l not be allowed without my  permission.  Department of The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date  DE-6  (3/81)  (WrM^-h^ 1  °\^h  written  ii  ABSTRACT  The aim of this thesis is to examine the nineteenth century novel  Voyage en Orient by Geirard de Nerval, using the semiotic  theories of Roland Barthes and Roman Jackobson.  The word 'Orient'  is^for the protagonist of the novel, a sign which represents an exotic fantasy land promising spiritual experience and "true love". His voyage through the Middle East and his various encounters teach the narrator here that the sign he longs for i s empty, and he acquires a new image and understanding of the Orient.  However, this more  realistic concept is not as desirable as his original ideal and,in order to regain that lost paradise, the narrator immerses himself in oriental stories and legends. In this study a triangular structure is used to depict the threestage development of the narrator's notions of the Orient, from his f i r s t ideas to his awareness of the real situation and finally to the lengthy stories which depict once more the desired magical land.  The  f i r s t part of the triadic structure examines the Orient as an imaginary or literary sign which the narrator anticipates finding during his voyage.  This sign is shown to be based on literary and a r t i s t i c works  and to have no real referent. The narrator's desire to find this ideal land permits him to anticipate and misunderstand events.  This way of  decoding information and projecting a personal image is called a connotative system of interpretation.  This system is examined in rela-  iii  tion to the romantic discourse with which the narrator describes his fantasies.  The second stage in the triangular model corresponds  to a change from a connotative system of decoding to a denotative system, as the narrator begins to perceive the real Orient. His actual experience and his need to communicate force the hero to recognize that the oriental sign he longs for i s empty; the result is a documentation of the actual Middle East.  T h i s time, the f i r s t  stage in the triangle emerges in an examination of the legends found in the.novel.  Nerval himself creates these new literary signs; their  codes and their significance for the author provide the reader with a new point of departure for his own pursuit of the "oriental". Nerval's novel i s seen to provide a commentary on the relationship between literature and experience, between signifiers and the signified.  iv  TABLE OF CONTENTS  INTRODUCTION Chapter One  Chapter Two  pp. 1-11 ... Signifier and Signified: The Obscure Object of Desire.  pp. 12-29  ... Connotation and Denotation: Behind the V e i l .  pp. 30-50  Chapter Three ... Myth and Mysticism: The Empty Chalice. Chapter Four  Chapter Five  Bibliography  pp. 51-66  ... From History to Story: The Magic Carpet.  pp. 67-92  ... Conclusion: "En Orient tout devient conte".  pp. 93-108  ...  pp. 109-112  ******************* ***  V  Dedication With special thanks to my supervisor, Valerie Raoul, for her unending patience, to friends who encouraged and helped me; to my daughter Cait l i n who faithfully stayed by me; to my husband Hiroyuki Kanabe who showed me the magical Orient  Nerval  could not find; and especially to the memory of my dear mother.  Nerval's Voyage en Orient:. The Quest for a Literary Sign Introduction The Voyage en Orient by Gerard de Nerval i s a long account of a traveller who, as his journey progresses, learns that the Orient of his imagination i s not real. of this book:  There have been a number of valuable studies  they a l l refer however at some, point to biographical or  psychological aspects of Nerval's l i f e , pointing out that the ideals the narrator searches for are directly related to his 'crises de f o l i e ' and his love for Jenny Colon, as well as numerous other facts which can be understood as motivations for this novel.  It i s not the aim of this  study to show the relationship between the novel and the psychological or biographical facts about the author.  The present study i s based on  the premise that the text i t s e l f can reveal the various structures of the novel as well as the fundamental tension between imagination and reality which i s crucial to a l l Nerval's works. The Nervalian discourse is rich in i t s diversity, and although the author's longing for an aesthetic universe is found i n other works by him, the Voyage en Orient is distinct because of the narrator's insistence on describing reality as he experiences i t , rather than describing dreams as he imagines them. The Voyage is generally considered a novel, but the journal format of this text renders the reading contract ambiguous. The reader is repeatedly told that the accounts are authentic, thus he i s apparently expected to read the book as though i t were a document, faithfully describing a journey.  For example, at the end of his travels the narrator  addresses the reader, saying that he trusts his accounts w i l l be of interest:  -2-  Quel interest auras-tu trouve" dans ces lettres heurtees, diffuses, melees "a des fragments de journal de voyage et a des legendes recueillies au hasard? Ce desordre metne est le garant de ma sincerite^; ce que j 'ai ecrit, je l ' a i vu, je l ' a i senti. - Ai-je eu tort de rapporter ainsi naivement mille incidents minutieux, deciaign^s d'ordinaire dans les voyages pittoresques ou scientifiques? (p. 624).1 However, the work's division into chapters and sections points to its at least partially fictitious nature.  Historically, Nerval travelled  to the Middle East in 1843 for twelve months. When he returned to Paris he began to publish his accounts and impressions of the countries he visited in various newspapers. Over a period of ten years, he worked on rewriting and editing a group of articles on his voyage and in 1851 the definitive edition of the Voyage en Orient appeared.  The differences in itinerary  and adventures between his actual voyage and those in the text establish firmly that this work is largely fiction. the Middle East, not the Far East.  The "Orient" referred to is  We shall retain the nineteenth century  use of the term. The novel is divided into four parts:  'Introduction: vers 1'Orient',  'Les femmes du Caire', 'Druses et Maronites' and 'Les nuits du Ramazan'. The 'Introduction' (which is 85 pages long) recounts Gerard's voyage from Paris to Greece.  This section of the novel is a preparation for the dream  Orient that Gerard expects to find.  The second part of the novel (pp. 85-  306), 'Les femmes du Caire', t e l l s of Gerard's stay in Cairo, his adventures buying a slave and his journey to Lebanon.  'Druses et Maronites'  (pp. 310-421), the third part, is the account of Gerard's falling in love and his marriage plans.  It also includes the legend of Hakem. The last  part, 'Les nuits du Ramazan' (p. 438-620)^describes Gerard's stay i n  -3-  Constantinople.  In this section the longest legend is told, 'Histoire  de l a reine du matin et de Soliman, prince des genies* . (pp.503-596). Since this book is a novel, i t is important to differentiate between the narrator, Gerard, and the author, Nerval.  Nerval, as author,  creates a narrator following a similar journey to the one he took himself through the Middle East.  Gerard goes in search of an idealized Orient,  as Nerval did years before.  The difference between the two is that  Nerval knows that the dream w i l l not be found, whereas Gerard must learn this through his travels. Gerard, the narrator, has certain preconceived notions about the Orient which he longs to experience.  The voyage presents the opportu-  nity to immerse himself in the Orient's promised exoticism.  However,  his cherished, idealistic notions are progressively demystified as he travels and learns to accept the reality of the Orient. The aim of this study w i l l be f i r s t to examine how Gerard's expectations and perceptions of the Orient are based upon literary and other artistic works.  It w i l l then analyse the progress from his projection  of an ideal to his acceptance of reality.  Finally, we w i l l see how  and  why the author integrates a new literary vision of the Orient into his text. The methodology used w i l l be based on semiotic theory, especially the work of Roland Barthes.  The semiotic approach reveals certain ele-  ments in this work that descriptive or thematic analysis would f a i l to elucidate.  The meta-language used to investigate the text can express  relationships and structures of the narration as well as provide a conceptual framework for specific observations.  -4-  Semiotics is the study of sign systems; i t s vocabulary i s quite 2  specific and therefore must be clearly defined.  Roland Barthes des-  cribes a sign as "a compound of a signifier and a signified."  The plane  of the signifiers constitutes the plane of expression and that of the signified the plane of content.  The meaning of a sign depends on a men-  t a l concept of something (the signified) combined with a visual or acoust i c image -(the signifier).  The process which binds the signifier and  the signified is called signification.  The signified is derived from a  referent - that to which the concept refers. or rjiiaginary.  This referent can be real  For example, the word "cow" i s made up of a certain mental  representation which i s expressed in English by the letters or sounds COW. In this case the referent of this concept may be a real animal.  On the  other hand, the referent i s imaginary in the world-sign "unicorn". In this case the signified does not refer to a real animal but  one created  4  in fairy-tales. The sign functions as a way of communicating ideas by means of messages.  These messages are transmitted by a code system.  The receiver  of the message must know the code to understand the intended messages, otherwise he may alter the meaning by a faulty interpretation.  The in-  terpretation of signs according to a personal bias i s called connotation. Connotation i s a system of interpretation:  the receiver of a message  raises the status of the signifier to that of a sign.  The receiver then  attributes to this 'new sign' his own signified, based on subjective values.  Denotation i s the opposite process.  The receiver objectively  conceives the signified as being something precise; he refuses personal interpretation but searches for the intended signification.  -5-  Connotation is emotional, whereas denotation is intellectual. A literary sign is an aesthetic message having more than the simple transitive function of communicating meaning:  i t has a value in. i t s e l f .  The literary sign is an aesthetic object affecting the reader, who subjectively determines i t s meaning. The following model shows how the basic structure of the Voyage en Orient can be construed as a triangular pattern.  The author, Nerval,  has his narrator begin his voyage looking for signs which f i t into his imaginary view of the Orient; here (A) the referent of the signified (Ge'rard's mental representation of the Orient) is entirely imaginary, being based on memory of historical and a r t i s t i c works.  The next step  (B) is that of Gerard interpreting the oriental signs according to his experiences.  The referent in this case is reality, the Orient loses i t s  mystique as the narrator encounters situations which teach him the real oriental code. He learns that his preconceived ideas do not correspond to reality as he now experiences i t .  Finally (C), Gerard is forced back  into literature in order to find the oriental signs he desires.  It is  at this point that the author produces new literary signs conveying the ideal signifieds which motivated the journey.  Nerval consciously fabri-  cates an Orient in which the signs are self-referential.  -6-  Model I Looking for the signified of the received sign (the referent i s imaginary) A  Creating a new sign (the referent i s produced by the author C himself)  Interpreting the perceived sign (the referent i s reality).  This model depicts the process within the text.  There i s a move-  ment, from A, the desire or quest for the source of the oriental sign, to B, the recognition that the sign i s empty of a real referent. At this point the narrator proceeds to C, where the source i s to be found in a new literary sign.  There i s an interdependence or internal con-  nection between C and A; the i n i t i a l need to find an ideal ultimately leads to i t s creation through literature.  Conversely, C w i l l ultimate-  ly influence A by becoming a separate text, which w i l l in turn become  -7-  part o£ the literary tradition and engender in i t s readers the desire to find the origins of the exotic Orient. As seen in the above model there are three basic movements within the text:  Gerard's quest for the oriental literary sign, the experience  which denies the validity of that sign, and finally the creation of another literary sign.  These changes are reflected in the different  discourses found within the text, showing the progress of the narrator and his initiation into the experience of the Orient. as a succession of hopes and disappointments.  The story unfolds  It contains the basic ele-  ments necessary for an initiation novel, as described by Barthes: L'histoire qui est racontee par le narrateur a done tous les caracteres dramatiques d'une initiation; i l s'agit d'une veritable mystagogie, articulee en trois moments dialectiques; le desir ... l'echec ... l'assomption.6 Gerard, like most heroes of initiation novels, also desires true love, the ideal woman: his vision of the Oriental woman is inseparable from a culture in which he expects to be able to transcend his rationa l i s t western background, to discover the sources of mysticism. None of his desires w i l l be f u l f i l l e d , but he w i l l be able to write about his experiences and offer a new and more accurate impression of the real Oriental, as well as his own projection of the unattainable, mythical "Orient". The sign or word 'Orient' has specific meaning for Gerard:  i t is  like a text which he already knows and expects to 'read' during his trip. But, as Barthes describes the ideal text, this text "est une galaxie de 7  signifiants, non une structure de signified'.' There is no substance or  -8-  referent corresponding to the signified of the sign system which the narrator anticipates, the Orient i s 'known' but without empirical content.  It i s during his journey that his knowledge w i l l shift from  mental knowledge to real knowledge. His 'reading' of the Orient w i l l change as the narrator learns to decode the messages i n real terms, rather than deciphering them according to a romantic code. The f i r s t chapter of this study w i l l analyse the process of projecting a desired meaning onto a situation.  This occurs because Gerard  decodes messages according to a connotative system.  This system permits  him to interpret signs i n such a way that they f i t into an idealized oriental image.  The process of anticipation and misunderstanding signs  also occurs when Gerard relates to women. He searches for the perfect 'type' who w i l l offer him the joys of "true love".  Each time he finds  a woman who appears to f i t his ideal image he feels certain that his quest for love is over.  However, just as the desired Orient eludes  him, so does the woman, and he must carry on his voyage. The f i r s t part of the second chapter w i l l examine the romantic discourse with which Gerard perceives and describes the Orient. This romantic ideology, affecting both his vision and expression, i s the connotative system which Gerard uses to decode oriental signs, transforming them into his own personal dream world.  The second part of  this chapter looks at the problem of communication, for i t i s this obstacle that ultimately leads Gerard to accept the real Orient. Forced to understand new words and customs, Gerard moves away from preconceived notions and begins to acknowledge the authentic oriental  -9-  society.  He no longer decodes situations according to a romantic code,  but encodes new information into the journal. In chapter three, we shall turn to Gerard's parallel quest for a mythical spiritual home, a return to the source of European religion and mysticism. Chapter four focusses on two of the legends found in the Voyage en Orient.  On one level they function as a means for Gerard to escape  back into his imagination.  As he transcribes these stories he is able  to become a part of the Orient he longed to find.  On another level  these stories are aesthetic messages - literary signs, describing a mythical Orient as envisaged by Nerval himself.  Based on religious  tales, these legends can be read as fantasy narration or as allegorical representations of a religious experience; neither interpretation is conclusive.  An examination of certain codes used by Nerval to create  his imaginary Orient follows. This novel has important historical value since i t documents the nineteenth century Middle East.  It also conveys the exotic dreams and  myths which dominated European impressions of the time.  Nerval care-  fully constructs a framework in which these two opposing images are juxtaposed.  From an a r t i s t i c point of view the text is remarkable, for  the author creates a new literary sign describing his personal, desired universe.  One of the legends in which Nerval depicts his fantasy Orient  is 'Histoire du Calife Hakem'.  In this tale the dialectic between rea-  l i t y and illusion mirrors an essential dilemma presented in the whole text.  Ge'rard believes his dream of the exotic Orient exists, but he  -10-  can find only a reflection of i t i n legends.  The question of whether  his ideal sign does have a real referent remains unanswered:  only an  Oriental could know, and Gerard's fascination with the unknown oriental other i s essentially European.  -11-  Notes to the Introduction: 1.  A l l quotations from the Voyage en Orient are taken from Gerard de Nerval, Oeuvres II (Paris: Bibliotheque de l a Ple'iade, 1961). Page references w i l l be given in the text.  2.  My explanations are derived from R. Jakobson Essais de linguistique generale. (Paris: Editions du Minuit, 1963) and R. Barthes, Elements of Semiology, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith. (London: Jonathan Cape, 1967)  3.  Barthes, ibid.,  4.  Barthes points out that "le signe n'est pas seulement l'objet d'une connaissance particuliere, mais aussi l'objet d'une vision." Essais Critiques, 'Imagination du signe' (Paris: Seuil, 1964), p. 210.  5.  See Gerard Genette, Figures II: 1969), p. 134.  6.  Barthes.  Essais critiques,  7.  Barthes. 1972), p.  le Degre^ zdro de l'ecriture. 169.  p. 39.  essais (Paris:  p. 54. (Paris:  Editions du Seuil,  Editions du Seuil,  (Paris:  1972)  Editions du Seuil,  -12-  Chapter I Signifier and Signified:  The Obscure Object of Desire.  Gerard, imagining adventures and romance, begins his voyage without a specific goal in mind. After a number of misadventures in Europe, he decides to travel to the Orient hoping that the East w i l l f u l f i l l his dream of an exotic journey.  While in Vienna he anticipates i t s  magical influence, which feels like a dream: A Vienne, cet hiver, j ' a i continuellement vecu dans un reve. Est-ce de"j& l a douce atmosphere de l'Orient qui agit sur ma tete et sur mon coeur? (p. 60). GeYard's expectation of an ideal Orient, which motivates his travels, w i l l cause him to interpret oriental l i f e according to preconceived notions.  Later, he w i l l learn to accept the Oriental reality for what i t  i s , but i n i t i a l l y his desires allow him to project meaning onto different situations. The "Orient" is a sign for Gerard, a sign which he must learn to decode according to his experience rather than his anticipation.  At  one level, the signifieds in the Voyage en Orient are based on a system which we w i l l c a l l "Orientalism" (a complex of attitudes or concepts formulated by Western man since the Middle Ages)."  1  Expressions of this  oriental image can be found in occidental literature, philosophy and travellers' accounts, as.well as in the visual and plastic arts. A l l of these, as well as the narrator's own imagination, contribute to Gerard's personal expectations of the Orient.  This is why,  refering  -13to the Orient, he exclaims:  "C'est bien l a , le pays des reves et de  1'illusion" (p. 92). The journey to the Orient is an act of faith for Gerard; he is hopeful that he w i l l find there a tangible reality which w i l l confirm his expectations.  He begins his travels by comparing himself to  Captain Cook, who discovered the substance of his dreams: ... a l a maniere du capitaine Cook qui ecrit avoir vu un t e l jour un godland ou un pingouin, t e l autre jour n'avoir vu qu'un tronc d'arbre flottant, i c i l a mer e'tait claire, l a bourbeuse. Mais, a travers ces signes vains, ces flots changeants, i l revait des lies inconnues et parfume'es et finissait par aborder un soir dans ces retraits du pur amour et de l'e'ternelle beaute'. (p. 31). The Orient is not simply a geographical location, but represents the origin of certain myths and ideals.  Thus the Orient is a sign for  Gdrard, in the sense that Barthes gives the term"... the sign is not 2 the 'thing', but the mental representation of the thing (concept)." Egypt, for example, according to Gerard is "toujours le pays des enigmes et des mysteres". ties are the signified.  (p. 90).  It is a sign and i t s exotic quali  One of the signifiers of the oriental sign is  the v e i l worn by Egyptian women. The narrator transfers this v e i l ima to the country i t s e l f :  " l a beaute" s'y entourne, comme autrefois, de  voiles et de bandelettes ..." (p. 90).  He decides to remain in Cairo  in order to ' l i f t ' the v e i l which protects i t s mysteries and charms (the signifieds). He expresses his intention in the following lines: Arretons-nous, et cherchons a soulever un coin du voile austere de l a decsse de Sais ... Reste le voile ... qui, peut-etre n'etablit pas une barriere aussi farouche que l'on croit (p. 90).  -14-  In the same way that the woman's v e i l conceals her beauty, the v e i l symbolizes the barrier between the traveller and the mysteries of Egypt. Furthermore, the v e i l i s the promise or sign that the oriental secrets exist, concealed from the casual voyager.  Confident that the promise  is real and that he can penetrate into the oriental world, Gerard decides to stay and become part of the Egyptian culture.  He assumes that the  tantalizing oriental enigma, symbolically hidden behind the v e i l , i s attainable through patience and a willingness to participate in the daily l i f e of the inhabitants.  This conviction i s firmly based on the  belief that the oriental sign has i n fact the desired referent. He explains i n his journal that i t i s necessary to live i n Egypt for a while in order to appreciate and enjoy the oriental magic: ...L'Egypte, grave et pieuse, est toujours le pays des ehigmes et des mysteres: l a beaute" s 'y entoure, comme autrefois, de voiles et de bandelettes, et cette morne attitude decourage aisement l'europeen frivole. II abandonne le Caire apres huit jours, et se hate d'aller vers les cataractes du N i l chercher d'autres deceptions que l u i re'serve l a science, et dont i l ne conviendra jamais. La patience e'tait l a plus grande vertu des initios antiques. Pourquoi passer s i vite? ... D'ailleurs, n'est-il pas encourageant de voir- qu'en des pays ou les femmes passent pour etre prisonni£res, les bazars, les rues et les jardins nous les presentent par milliers, marchant seules a l'aventure, ou deux ensemble, ou accompagnees d'un enfant? ... Parmi les riches costumes arabes et turcs que l a rdforme epargne, 1'habit mysterieux des femmes donne a l a foule qui remplit les rues 1'aspect joyeux d'un bal masque' ... L'imagination trouve son compte ^ cet incognito des visages feminins, qui ne s'e'tend pas a tous leurs charmes (pp. 90-91). Just as the Orient intrigues Ge'rard because of i t s impenetrability, the oriental woman, concealed behind her v e i l , allows his imagination to  -15-  dream of her beauty and grace.  She is projected as being the perfect  wife and lover, especially after Gerard witnesses an Egyptian wedding. One night he is awakened by the music of a wedding procession. At f i r s t he thinks he is dreaming, but realizes that the melody is actually outside his window. The blending of dream and reality seems natural in the magical city and Gerard describes his impressions in the following lines: Mon premier sommeil se croisait d'une maniere inexplicable avec les sons vagues d'une cornemuse et d'une viole enroue'e, qui agagaient sensiblement mes nerfs. Cette musique obstinee repe'tait toujours sur divers tons l a meme phrase melodique, qui reveillait en moi l'idee d'un vieux noel bourguignon ou provenc,al. Cela appartenait-il au songe ou a l a vie? Mon esprit hesita quelque temps avant de s'eveiller tout a f a i t ^ (p. 93). Wishing to become part of the dream, now metamorphosed into reality, Gerard follows the procession through the labyrinth of streets and finally joins the wedding party.  The ritual of the ceremony strengthens the nar-  rator's belief that the Orient does f i t into his imaginary system. He returns home "tout emu de cette scene nocturne" (p. 99), and describes the bride as "mysterieuse sous son voile comme 1'antique deesse du N i l " Cp. 99).  The description of the ideal woman or bride is important, but  i t is Gerard's concept of the  bridegroom which is essential, for i t  reveals what he himself wishes to become: "un seul homme (qui) aura le secret de cette beaute' ou de cette grace ignoree:  un seul (qui) peut  tout le jour poursuivre en paix son ideal et se croire le favori d'une sultane ou d'une fee", (p. 100).  This desire to unite himself with an  oriental woman indicates that Gerard is not only seeking the signified  -16-  of the sign 'the Orient', but also that he desires to become part of that signified.  In this way he would learn the mysteries and magic of the  Orient and be part of the dream he imagines is there.  The veiled woman  is no more real than the Orient from A Thousand and One Nights, but for Gdrard she is " l a deesse Isis",  the veiled feminine principle.  It is  through her that Gerard dreams of attaining his ideal state of happiness. Gerard projects meaning onto a situation, as seen in the above quotation, where he eulogizes the happy state of the oriental bridegroom. This projection of meaning is motivated by a system of signification i n which the referent is imaginary.  He fantasizes the oriental world or  woman as being a certain way, as f i t t i n g an ideal model. The word 'Orient' acts as a catalyst for the narrator's imagination, allowing him to perceive the world evoked as a whole sign system. This process of attributing an imaginary character to the Orient is similar to Marcel's associations of proper names in A La Recherche du temps perdu.  In his  essay, Proust et les noms, Barthes describes the importance of the name as a sign for Marcel.  This description is applicable to Gerard's con-  ception of the Orient which is a sign or name "touffu de sens". According to Barthes: Le Norn propre est l u i aussi un signe et non, bien entendu, un simple indice qui designerait, sans signifier ... Comme signe, le Norn s'offre a une exploration, U un dechiffrement: i l est k la fois un 'milieu' (au sens biologique du terme), dans lequel i l faut se plonger, baignant inde'finiment dans toutes les reveries qu'il porte, et un objet precieux, comme une fleur. Autrement d i t , s i le Nom ... est un signe, c'est un signe volumineux, un signe toujours gros d'une epaisseur touffue de sens". 3  -17-  The Orient and the veiled women are "des signes volumineux" for Gerard i n the same way that proper names are for Marcel.  The word  'Orient' is the "open sesame" to a world of sultans, princesses, godesses and heroes.  The image of the veiled woman evokes longings and thoughts  of happiness.  Both are signs with imaginary referents which Gerard naive-  ly hopes to find. The sources for Gerard's notions about the Orient are numerous: one is his own imagination, another important source is literature. Often Gerard refers to the cities he visits as being from the legends i n A Thousand and One Nights.  For example, while i n Cairo he says "... c'est  la, me disais-je, l a v i l l e des Mille et une Nuits, la capitale des califes fatimites et des soudans ..." (p. 92).. Gerard integrates the fictional images found in that oriental fairy tale into his conceptual models of the Orient, and expects to discover them during his voyage.  The stories  and legends form a symbolic Orient for him, a potentially magical universe.  Thus, while he travels, the people and objects he sees (which are  the signifiers of Gerard's oriental sign) become secondary to the possib i l i t i e s or ideas (signifieds) which they represent. Barthes describes this process of symbolism as occurring when " l a forme (y) est sans cesse 4  de"bordee par l a puissance et le mouvement du contenu". Gerard repeatedly illustrates a "conscience symbolique" i n his interpretation of situations: bridegroom.  for example, i n his concept of the oriental  Barthes defines the "conscience symbolique" i n this way: La conscience symbolique est essentiellement refus de la forme: dans le signe, c'est le signifie' qui l'interesse: le signifiant n'est jamais pour elle qu'un determine'." 5  -18-  As Barthes points out, this symbolic consciousness is a refusal to see the form of the sign for what i t i s ; rather i t emphasises the signified (or concept) as the perceiver himself imagines i t to be.  In  Gerard's case, his own ideas of the Orient dominate his perceptions.  A  closer analysis of Gerard's conceptualization is possible by applying the idea of a connotative system to his observations. The theory of the connotative system is basically concerned with the system of signification, or the relation between the plane of expression and the plane of content i n a sign.  Hjelmslev represents this system  in the formula E R C (where R is a relation between E, the plane of expression, and C, the plane of content).  Barthes describes  of signification possible in the interpretation of a sign:  two systems  one is the  connotative system, the other i s the denotative system. In the f i r s t case, the f i r s t system (E R C) becomes the' plane of expression, or signifier of the second system: 2  I  E R C ERC  or else (ERC) RC. This i s the case which Hjelmslev calls connotative semiotics: the f i r s t system i s then the plane of denotation and the second system (wider than the first) the plane of connotation. We shall therefore say that a connoted system i s a system whose plane of expression is i t s e l f constituted by a signifying system ... The signifiers of connotation which we shall c a l l connotators, are made up of signs (signifiers and signifieds united) of the denoted system. 7 According to Barthes these two systems of signification are built upon each other but staggered.  In Gerard's case, the denoted system  which i s the plane of expression or signifier for his interpretations  -19-  (connotative  system)  i s based upon books,  other Western notions  of the Orient,  paintings,  as w e l l as h i s  a n d a number  of  own d e s i r e s .  An  example o f t h e p r o c e s s  o f s i g n i f i c a t i o n on t h e p l a n e o f c o n n o t a t i o n  found at the beginning  of the j o u r n a l .  who g e s t u r e s lous  f o r him to f o l l o w her.  adventure to  Gerard encounters  G e r a r d does s o ,  is  a n o l d woman  expecting a fabu-  ensue:  A p r e s t o u t , me d i s - j e ^ c e t t e femme r e c o n n a i t e n m o i u n e t r a n g e r , e l l e v e u t p e u t - e t r e me m o n t r e r q u e l q u e curiosite'. P e u t - e t r e e s t - e l l e chargee d'un galant m e s s a g e , c a r n o u s sommes d a n s l e L e v a n t , p a y s d'aventures. Comme e l l e me f a i s a i t s i g n e d e l a s u i v r e , j e l a s u i v i s (p. 8 6 ) . G e r a r d d o e s n o t know t h e m e a n i n g o f t h e g e s t u r e , t h e o l d woman i n t o a n o r i e n t a l i m a g e b e l o n g i n g inherited. venture.  For him she The p r o c e s s  is  however he  t o a system which he  has  a m e d i a t o r between h i m s e l f and a n e x o t i c  ad-  of s i g n i f i c a t i o n here i s  to attribute a  f a n t a s y m o d e l o r s i g n i f i e d t o t h e o l d woman, t h e s i g n i f i e r . fits  the s i g n i n t o a personal  (his  i d e a o f what  the s i g n i f i e r  system o f s i g n i f i c a t i o n , the  l i e s behind the sign)  (the g e s t u r e ) .  the " c h a r a c t e r  and d i f f u s e ;  it  logy  is,  As B a r t h e s  is  points  a fragment  is  out,  i n a process  t r a n s m u t e d i n t o a messenger  of connotation. or promise  This  global  ideo-  (signifiers  T h u s , t h e o l d woman  as  of  connota-  of a wonderful experience.  t h e f o l l o w i n g model t h e o l d woman's g e s t u r e ,  than  a t once g e n e r a l ,  of ideology."  he  signified  i n the  of Western O r i e n t a l i s m i s u n i t e d w i t h the connotators  of connotation)  Because  s i m p l y an i n d i c a t o r  (of the s i g n i f i e d )  i f you l i k e ,  romantic  i s more i m p o r t a n t t o h i m  The s i g n i f i e r  a p o t e n t i a l l y r i c h experience. t i v e system,  fits  i n t e r p r e t e d by  is In  Gerard,  -20-  is seen as i t f i t s into Hjelmslev's formula:  2  Sr 1  Sr  old woman's gesture  orientalism Sd  old woman's gesture Sd  On the f i r s t level (the denoted system) the signifier and signified of the old woman's gesture have a certain meaning, but this meaning is altered when the gesture becomes a signifier of connotation. This process of connotation, found throughout the journal, is the motivation behind the narrative action.  Ge"rard endows people and situa-  tions with specific qualities, because he wants them to have them. In semiotic terms Gerard wishes to move from the connotative level where meaning i s implicit to a denotative level where meaning i s explicit. In that way he would no longer have to fantasize his ideals, but would be able to experience them. The Orient is a world f u l l of signs rich i n symbolic meaning for Gerard.  However, not a l l signs are propitious.  misfortune i n the shape of an animal or insect.  Often Gerard recognizes For example, one evening  a black dog follows him and a woman friend; for him the dog i s a "mauvaise augure": ...comme je reconduisais l a dame assez tard, i l s'est m&le' dans nos amours un chien qui courait comme l a barbe de Faust et qui avait l ' a i r fou. J'ai vu tout de suite que c'etait de mauvaise augure. La belle s'est mise a caresser le chien, qui e'tait tout mouille', puis elle m'a dit qu'il avait  -21-  sans doute perdu ses maftres, et qu'elle voulait le r e c u e i l l i r chez elle. J'ai demande' k y entrer aussi, mais elle m'a repondu: nicht! ... Je me suis ait: C'est ce gredin de chien noir qui me porte malheur. II est evident que, sans l u i , j'aurais e'te're^u (p. 46). Another time, Gerard is contemplating his future happiness with an oriental woman when he sees a large insect. He fears that i t is also a sign of calamity: Je n'ose te dire quel vulgaire incident vint me t i r e r de ces hautes reflexions pendant que je foulais d'un pied superbe le sable rouge du sentier. Un enorme insecte le traversait, en poussant devant l u i une boule plus grosse que lui-meme: c'e'tait une sorte d'escargot qui me rappela les scarabees egyptiens, qui portent le monde au dessus de leur te~te. Tu me connais pour supers t i t ieux, et tu penses bien que je t i r a i une augure quelconque de cette intervention symbolique tracee a travers mon chemin. Je revins sur mes pas avec l a pensee d'un obstacle contre lequel i l me faudrait lutter, (p. 347-8). Objects, insects, people and animals a l l become signs which f i t into Gerard's interpretation of the world. of them by association with literary sources. him with a system of identification: to a literary model.  He recognizes a number These references provide  signs become significant according  Gerard even contemplates his own self-image as  corresponding to symbols and themes of his reading.  In Cairo, for example,  Gerard finds himself i n a situation which he fantasizes as occurring i n A Thousand and One Nights.  He identifies with the young merchant in one  of the stories to such an extent that he acts out his role, following two women and buying them some material: Me voila en pleines Mille et une Nuits. Que ne suis-je un des jeunes marchands auxquels les  -22-  deux dames font deployer leurs etoffes, ainsi que faisait l a f i l l e de l'emir devant l a boutique de Bedreddin! Je leur dirais comme le jeune homme de Bagdad: "Laissez-moi voir votre visage pour prix de cette etoffe a fleurs d'or, et je me trouverai paye' avec usure! (p. 117). Through his imagination, Gerard moves from the world of actuality to the world of fantasy and literary codes. This marvelous universe of subjective projections, i n which Gerard can be Casanova, Don Juan or a hero from an oriental fairy-tale, i s also populated by images from the great painters.  ;  He finds in Munich  "tous les types cre%s par les grands artistes de l a terre ... on pouvait s'entretenir avec le Judith de Caravage, le magicien d'Albert Durer ou le Madeleine de Rubens!" (p. 24). Types, whether they are fictional characters or forms of beauty, are important to Gerard because they are an outward manifestation of an inner concept.  In other words, the type is an expression, under the  phenomena of form, of a system of relations, established by conventional codes of knowledge and understanding.  Women especially are perceived  according to a taxonomy of types. There are certain images that appeal emotionally and erotically to Gerard because they represent an abstract ideal of physical and mental perfection. While i n Vienna, Gerard meets a woman whom he recognizes as an archetypal mate. His enthusiastic description conveys the impression her presence^makes on him: Mon ami! imagine que c'est une beaute' de celles que nous avons tant de fois reveres, la femme ide'ale des tableaux de l'ecole italienne,  -23-  la Venitienne de Gozzi, 'bionda e grassota', la voila trouve'e.' je regrette de n'etre pas assez fort en peinture pour t'en indiquer exactement tous les traits. Figuretoi ... une peau incroyable, & croire qu'on l ' a i t conservee sous des verres: les traits les plus nobles, le nez aquilin, le front haut, l a bouche en cerise; puis un col de pigeon gros et gras, arrete' par un collier de perles: puis des epaules blanches et fermes, oil i l y a de la force d'Hercule et de l a faiblesse et du charme de 1'enfant de deux ans. J'ai explique' a cette beaute qu'elle me plaisait, surtout parce qu'elle ei:ait pour ainsi dire Austro-venitienne, et qu'elle re'alisait en elle seule le Saint-Empire romain ... (p. 33). This woman, Catarina, is never known to Gerard beyond a superf i c i a l level because he cannot communicate with her due to their language differences.  This barrier is essential, however, for i t enables  Gerard to continue in pursuit of his imaginary ideal.  It is only her  appearance which is important to him, as i t reminds him of another image. Later, while in Egypt, Gerard chooses to buy a slave g i r l , Zeynab, because he recognizes her as being an exotic oriental type. is based on an undefinable feeling that he cannot resist.  His choice Upon seeing  her, he declares: Je poussai un c r i d'enthousiasme: je venais de reconnaitre l ' o e i l en amande, l a paupie^re oblique des Javanaises dont j ' a i vu des peintures en Hollande: comme carnation, cette femme appartenait . evidemment a l a race jaune. Je ne sais quel gout de 1'Strange et de 1'impreVu, dont je ne pus me defendre, me decida en sa faveur (p. 172). ;  Zeynab is compared to a 'tableau' etched on Gerard's memory: the focus of his attention is on the similarity of her face to that of a  -24-  painting.  Although he cannot identify the origin of his feeling, i t  is obviously evoked by his recognition of her resemblance to another image. Her oriental features are a sign reminiscent of another sign, or, as Barthes writes:  " l e signe est une fracture qui ne s'ouvre 9 jamais que sur le visage d'un autre signe." The oriental woman who becomes the central emotional focus for Gerard is Salema. This friend of Zeynab is f i r s t seen by Gerard while he is visiting his slave at a girls' school in Beirut.  His f i r s t im-  pression is that she is a 'gracieuse apparition' as her face is hidden behind a v e i l .  Later, when her beauty is revealed, she becomes an  object of admiration onto which he projects a mythology of the ideal woman. She has the characteristics of both the European and Oriental "types," as well as the traits of nobility: Et la jeune f i l l e , se laissant voir>enfin, me permit d'admirer des traits ou l a blancheur europeenne s ' a l l i a i t au dessin pur de ce type aquilin qui, en Asie comme chez nous, a quelque chose de royal, (p. 344). Salema is an expression of the aesthetic and exotic  ideals of  which Gerard dreams. The daughter of a Druze sheik, she also f u l f i l s the intellectual need of Gerard's imagination.  She is cultured, in-  telligent and 'royal,' whereas Zeynab, on the other hand, could never be considered as a mate for Gerard because of her status of slave. Gerard decides immediately that he loves Salema and w i l l marry her. This decision to marry, however, is not suddenly reached on seeing Salema.  In fact, the desire to find the perfect woman is part of the  journey's quest.  From the beginning of the voyage, Gerard wishes to  -25-  be "comme un heros de roman (p. 338).  According to him, the novel  "n'a que deux sortes de denouements, le mar-iage. ou l a mort," therefore i t is necessary that he attain "du moins a l'un des deux" (p. 338). Marriage to Salema w i l l guarantee his position of hero.  Through her  love, his mundane role in the world w i l l alter, and he w i l l be perceived by her as the lover/hero. Thus, although Salema i s the object of his own imagination, she is also the subject or catalyst for his being loved. The marriage ceremony w i l l ensure his position as being the object of her desire, the husband. The need to be loved, to unite with an ideal woman, i s based on Gerard's own romantic notions of love.  Salema w i l l initiate him into  the world of heroes, and also into the secrets of love.  Although he  has yet to learn the secrets she w i l l reveal, the concepts of love are deeply rooted i n Gerard's romantic models.  Two saints, Polyphile  and Polia, serve as examples of true love for Gerard  (p. 67).  Love  is considered to be a mystical experience which projects the lovers beyond the real world into a transcendental atmosphere, rendering them saints and gods.  However, the central myth in the story of Polyphile  and Polia is not love but absence.  The lovers never marry, because of  their social situations, instead they join religious orders and wait for death to unite them. Only during their sleep do they dream that they are together. "L'amour celeste" i s the imaginary state in which one person meditates on- another.  Solitude and a dream object are the  two requirements for the pure love that Gerard seeks.  His description  of the feelings he experiences after seeing Salema reveal this aspect:  -26-  En quittant l a maison de Madame Carles, j 'ai emporte" mon amour comme une proie dans l a solitude. Oh! que j'eltais heureux . de me voir une idee, un but, une volonte', quelque chose "a rever, a tacher d'atteindre! (p. 346). The dream world, i n which Gerard envisages himself and his love, is outside the actualities of time and space.  Love w i l l render him  eternally happy, eternally young. Gerard describes his joy and paints the mental image of his happiness: je n'er.ais plus seul: mon avenir se dessinait sur le fond lumineux de ce tableau: l a femme ideale que chacun poursuit dans ses songes s'e'tait realisee pour moi (p. 347). Gerard contemplates himself in the marvelous universe of his own reflections.  This dream world can only be experienced in his imagina-  tion, i n the same way that Salema, his dream woman, can never be known as a real person.  Her perfection and mystique are guarded by the  dreamer himself, who creates her qualities and renders her an ideal, an unattainable object of desire. Gerard's desire to marry Salema is also motivated by his belief that i n marrying an oriental woman he w i l l attain the status and pride of one who is born i n " l a terre des patriarches" . (p. 338).  The mar-  riage w i l l enable him to become part of the Orient, instead of remaining simply a European traveller.  Aware of these potentialities,  Gerard writes: II faut que je m'unisse a quelque f i l l e ingenue de ce sol sacre' qui est notre premiere ' patrie a tous, que  -27-  je me retrempe ^. ces sources vivifiantes de 1' humanity d'dh ont decoule' l a poesie et les croyances de nos p"eres! (p. 338). Once he discovers Salema, Gerard feels his hopes of finding the ideal Orient are realizable.  His wedding, like a r i t u a l ceremony,  w i l l initiate him into the Oriental culture.  Salema i s the necessary  connection between his Western past and an Eastern future, between a bourgeois French l i f e and an exotic Oriental one.  Marriage to Salema  would be an affirmation of the oriental ideal cherished by Gerard. She is a product of this romantic culture and their l i f e together i s a promise of his being able to participate i n i t . The wedding ceremony gives reality to Gerard's dreams of love and of the Orient. Convinced that his l i f e w i l l alter completely, he perceives the marriage as a sort of rebirth, a r i t e of passage from rational existence to a poetic state. Ge'rard construes marriage through an exotic code:  i t signifies  at the same time r i t u a l , union, and access to " l e pays des reves." Love and the Orient are signs for Ge'rard, so i s marriage, and like the other two, i t has no referent beyond his imagination.  It is only  through the experience of his travels that Gerard w i l l realize his error i n judgement. The signs w i l l be unveiled and reveal an oriental reality which disappoints Gerard, but at the same time interests him as a chronicler.  Ge'rard's perception of the Orient w i l l be seen to  change, as he shifts from a connotative system to a denotative system. The connotative system of perceiving the Orient i s i n part dependent on the romantic language codes that Gerard uses.  Certain words and  -28-  phrases create images which colour his perception of situations, people, or objects.  The romantic discourse that Gerard uses, which at f i r s t  deludes him into seeing what he wants to, w i l l be examined in the next chapter.  This language changes as Gerard learns about the actual Orient  and reflects the denotative process of perception.  -29-  Notes to Chapter One. 1.  For a study of the p o l i t i c a l and economic implications of this attitude see: E.W. Said, Orientalism. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978).  2.  Roland Barthes,  Elements of Semiology, p. 50.  3.  Roland Barthes,  Le Degrg" zero de l'ecriture du Seuil, 1972), p. 125.  4.  Roland Barthes,  Essais critiques , (Paris:  (Paris:  Editions  Editions du Seuil,  1964), p. 208. 5.  Roland Barthes,  Essais critiques, p. 208.  6.  Roland Barthes,  Elements of Semiology, p. 89.  7.  ibid.,  pp. 89-90  8.  ibid.,  p. 90  9.  Roland Barthes,  L Empire des signes p. 65. 1  (Paris:  Flammarion, 1970),  -30-  Chapter Two Connotation and Denotation:  Behind the V e i l  Language is central to Gerard's perception of the Orient, as is the European romantic code, which he uses in describing women and events.  This language conceals and protects him from real contact  with the Orient.  He is able to imagine situations as he wishes to:  in other words, he is able to remain on a connotative level of interpretation.  After examining the romantic code he uses, we shall turn  to the way i n which Gerard is forced into recognizing the Orient as i t i s , unveiled.  Owing to the daily necessities of l i f e and his own  personal interest, Gerard learns the Oriental languages and becomes aware of his own misconceptions, and of those of the west. At this point, he interprets meaning on a denotative level.  The "Orient" i s  no longer situated i n relation to Europe and i t s culture, but i s , i n fact, a reality ... where Geirard i s . Connotation As we have seen, Gerard's desire is to find the perfect woman and his ideal Orient influences his observations.  Consequently, he  believes that he recognizes objects, faces, and events, when i n fact, he is only f i t t i n g them into his own mythological system.  It is not  only his desire which alters reality and enables Gerard to project meaning, but also his language.  Ge'rard perceives the oriental world  in a set of fixed images borrowed from a romantic code.  This code is  both the inspiration and guide for Ge'rard, who accepts the romantic  -31-  promise that feeling, passion, and dreams are real and can be conveyed by literature.  Exotic prose and poetic images are the signifieds or  concepts behind Gerard's interpretations. For Gerard, the fantasy universe exists and the romantic literature and arts attest to i t s verity.  It is the romantic language which creates a vision and a goal.  In his book Langage et connaissance, A. Schaff describes language influences one's notion of the world.  This idea  how  is clearly  applicable to Gerard, who has faith in the actuality of his romantic dream. Schaff states:  "le systeme d'une langue definit dans un  certain sens notre vision du monde" and also, " l a langue 'cree' effectivement 1'image de la realite.""'' The romantic language is the starting point and the vehicle of Gerard's hopes.  For example, he extols  the novelist Nodier for his work, Franciscus Columna, which describes the love of Polyphile and Polia. As previously mentioned, this story represents for Gerard a perfect model of real love, the type of love he aspires to find.  He writes:  Recois aussi ce souvenir d'un de tes amis inconnus, bon Nodier, belle ame divine, qui les (Polyphile and Polia) immortalisait en mourant.' Comme t o i je croyais en eux, et comme eux a 1'amour celeste, dont Polia ranimait l a flamme, et dont Polyphile reconstruisait en ide'e le palais splendide sur les rochers cythe'reens. Vous savez aujourd'hui quels sont les vrais dieux, esprits doublement couronnes: paiens par le genie, Chretiens par le coeur! (p. 67) It is Nodier's vision and expression which touch Gerard.  For  Gerard, this novel not only constitutes the ultimate portrayal of love,  -32-  but also proves that its author is a sincere "apotre de 1'amour pur" (p. 67). truth.  In Gerard's mind, i t is language alone which substantiates Because of this, he writes as though Polyphile and Polia were  not'simply literary characters, but real people, and he praises Nodier, not for his style, but for the purity of his love: Que Polyphile et Polia, ces saints martyrs d'amour, me pardonnent de toucher a leur memoire! Le hasard..s'il est un hasard? a remis en mes mains leur histoire mystique, et j'ignorais a cette heure-la me^e qu'un savant plus poete, un poete plus savant que moi, avait f a i t reluire sur ces pages le dernier eclat du genie que recelait son front penche'. II fut comme eux un des plus fideles apotres de 1'amour pur ... et parmi nous l'un des derniers (p. 67). Ge'rard acknowledges with bitter regret that, unlike Nodier, he cannot remain faithful to language alone, but must travel to find his ideal.  He laments that he needs to touch reality in order to believe  in i t . Et moi qui vais descendre dans cette l i e sacree que Francesco a de'crite sans 1'avoir vue, ne suis-je pas toujours, he'las! le f i l s d'un ' si^cle de'sherite''d'illusions, qui a besoin de toucher pour croire, et de rever le passe ... sur ses dehris? II ne m'a pas suffi de mettre au tombeau mes amours de chair et de cendre, pour bien m'assurer que c'est nous, vivants, qui marchons dans un monde de fantomes. Polyphile, plus sage, a connu la vraie Cythbre pour ne 1'avoir point visitee, et le veritable amour pour en avoir repousse' 1'image mortelle (p. 67). This confession is crucial to the understanding of Gerard's voyage, for i t indicates the paradoxical undertaking of a man, motivated by dreams  -33-  evoked by language, who w i l l find out that his ideals can only be sustained in words. Several incidents demonstrate Gerard's preoccupation with poetic images and the associations he makes on their juxtaposition with reality.  These sometimes produce comic effects, as i n Greece, when he  drinks some wine sold to him by a local wine seller.  Gerard thinks  he w i l l taste the nectar of the gods, but soon realizes that i t is simply bad wine.  Out of deference to his respect for ancient Greek  wine, he cannot spit i t out, but does admit that i t tastes horrible: Tenez, ce jeune homme aux cheveux boucles, qui passe en portant sur l'epaule le corps difforme d'un chevreau noir ... Dieux puissants.' c'est une outre de vin, une outre homerique, ruisselante et velue. Le garcon sourit de mon etonnement, et m'offre gracieusement de delier l'une des pattes de sa be"te, afin de remplir ma coupe d'un vin de Samos emmielle'. "0 jeune Grec! dans quoi me verseras-tu ce nectar? car je ne possede point de coupe, je te l'avouerai. "Bois!" me d i t - i l , en tirant de sa ceinture une corne tronquee garnie de cuivre et faisant j a i l l i r de l a patte de 1'outre un flot du liquide ecumeux. J'ai tout avale" sans grimace et sans rien rejeter, par respect pour le sol de 1'antique Scyros que foulerent les pieds d'Achille enfant! Je puis dire aujoud'hui que cela sentait affreusement le cuir, l a melasse et l a colophane; mais assurelnent, c'est bien lk le meme vin*.. qui se buvait aux noces de Pelee, et je benis les dieux qui m'ont fait l'estomac d'un Lapithe sur les jambes d'un Centaure (pp. 80, 81). This passage indicates the recurring tendency Gerard has to perceive objects as signs (in this case, i t is the goatskin bottle) and to interpret the signs according to his personal code system. The  -34-  ordinary goatskin bottle becomes "un outre homerique ruisselante et velue" containing the nectar of the gods. When he admits that the wine was not good, Ge'rard insists on the historical and literary importance of Samoan wine, rather than his disappointment in i t s taste. The sign, ".  outre de vin" transcends i t s function as container to  become a visual manifestation of a poetic image.  In other words, one  object, the goatskin bottle, i s the 'word made visible' - the 'word' being a passage from Homer describing the wedding of Pelee. As previously discussed, Gerard is decoding on a connotative level.  He projects meaning onto a sign from his memory of other texts  which contained the ideals or signifieds he hopes to find.  In this  way, Gerard is like a reader of a foreign book, decoding the characters on the pages into significant symbols by working  within a code system  he already knows. The correct code of the new text remains hidden. His misreading occurs voluntarily, because Ge'rard knows what he wants to understand.  Consequently, he projects meaning onto signs, endowing  them with the signified or another sign.  As 'decoder' of the new text,  Ge'rard's perceptions are simple copies of another anterior text.  His  memory preserves the original idea and his desire for that ideal motivates a rereading of i t into a new text or sign.  In this way, he de-  monstrates the process of decoding as described by Jakobson: cessus de de'codage presente l a direction du son au sens  "Le pro-  et des elements  2  aux symboles."  Gerard himself i s aware of this tendency, and expresses  i t i n the following passage which describes his pleasure on seeing Beirut for the f i r s t time:  -35-  J'avais hate d'arriver au port et de m'abondonner entierement a 1'impression du spectacle qui m'y attendait. 0 nature.' beaute", grace, ineffable des cite's d'Orient baties aux bords des mers, tableaux chatoyants de l a vie, spectacle des plus belles races humaines ... comment peindre 1'impression que vous causez a tout reveur, et qui n'est pourtant que l a realite' d'un sentiment pre'vue? On a de^ja l u cela dans les livres, on l'a admire' dans les tableaux, surtout dans ces v i e i l l e s peintures italiennes qui se rapportent a l'epoque de la puissance maritime des Venitiens et des Genois: mais ce qui surprend aujourd'hui, c'est de le trouver encore s i pareil a l'idee qu'on s'en est formee (p. 303-304). Ge'rard expresses enthusiasm for this city because i t i s so clearly a copy of his imaginary Beirut.  He is not searching for originality or  unknown c i t i e s ; his quest i s for the recognizable, the imitation of a preconceived image. The connotative or subcodes which Ge'rard uses to decode signs are based on cultural conventions, as i s the romantic language he uses. Umberto Eco maintains:  As  "An expression does not i n principal designate 3  any object, but on the contrary conveys a cultural content."  Gerard  does not objectively describe the oriental world, his writing reflects his own dreams and projections, based on romantic ideology. His romantic discourse i s founded on the same codes as those he uses to decode signs and messages.  The following quotation shows Ge'rard's romantic  mode of expression and how he refers to mythological literature:  -36-  Me preservent les chastes Pierides de meclire aujourd'hui des monts rocailleux de l a Grece! ce sont les os puissants de cette v i e i l l e mere (la riotre a tous) que nous foulons d'un pied debile. Ce gazon rare oh fleurit l a triste anemone rencontre a peine assez de terre pour entendre sur elle un reste de manteau jauni. 0 Muses! o Cybele ... " (p.81) Underlying this passage is a romantic of the past, the home of the gods.  nostalgia for the Greece  Gerard, addressing a prayer to the  muses and the goddess of f e r t i l i t y , laments the  loss of beauty and  abundance. The image of Greece as mother of men and gods i s emphasized by the fact that Gerard prays to Greek mythical figures, thus giving them the status of receivers of his message. Greece, once the symbol for beauty and art, is now seen as i t really i s , a dry landscape signifying absence and alienation.  The very  material presence of the barren mountains evokes a longing for the Greece of Gerard's imagination. According to Paul de Man, this conflict between nature and imagination i s fundamental to romantic expression: Le theme de 1'imagination coincidant avec le theme de la nature, telle est l a fondamentale ambiguite' qui caracterise l a poetique romantique. Qui dit objet naturel dit presence imme'diate de la matiere et des elements physiques: qui d i t image d i t , par definition, non presence de l'objet. 4 Gerard's account contains both the elements described by de Man: the real Greek mountains and the presence of an imaginary Greece.  The  ambiguity of Gerard's narration is the result of the overshadowing of the natural or real elements (the barren mountains) by the romantic  -37-  Greece of the muses. For example, the metaphor equating the barren mountains to the powerful bones of the mother is important because Ge'rard does not compare the two, but insists that they are identical: "des monts rocailleux ... ce sont les os ... " They have the same essence, the same identity.  The description of real Greece i s minimal.  Ge'rard's imagination and poetic language dominate the description of the actual landscape, and thus i t is the absent Greece that is stressed. Paul de Man describes this process characteristic of romantic thought: Quelquefois l a pensee et la poe'sie romantiques semblent s i proches de s'abandonner entierement "a. la nostalgie de l'objet qu'il devient d i f f i c i l e de distinguer entre. langage expressif ou constituant et un language mimeltique ou litte'ral. 5 Another example of the ambiguity between object and image created by Ge'rard's language is found i n his description of a Greek woman whom he meets i n Constantinople.  The portrait of this woman seems to be ob-  jective because Ge'rard avoids the effusive metaphors associated with poetic language:  rather he uses a predominantly mimetic mode of  expression: La quatrieme, assise "a. l'extremite' du divan, etait une jeune Grecque. blonde ayant le p r o f i l pur popularise' par l a statuaire antique. Un 'taktikos' de Smyrne aux festons et aux glands d'or pose' coquettement sur l ' o r e i l l e et entourne' par deux enormes tresses de cheveux tordus formant turban autour de l a tete, accompagnant admirablement sa physionomie spirituelle, illumine'e par un oeil bleu ou b r i l l a i t l a pense'e, et contrastant avec 1'eclat immobile et sans idee des grands yeux noirs de ses rivales en beaute' ... (p.466). Although Ge'rard creates the impression of presenting an objective  -38-  description, this is only an illusion.  He sees and describes the woman  through a fairytale vision derived from an oriental story.  He says:  II me semble,dis-je, voir un tableau des Mille et une Nuits et faire en ce moment 'le reve du Dormeur eveille' (p. 467) It is Gerard's projection of this woman and how she f i t s into his image of 'le reve du Dormeur eVeille'' which is described, and not the real woman. In this portrait Gerard is capturing his own fantasy and the result is a posed and static image, as immobile as the Greek statues he mentions or words on a page. This passage describing a Greek woman underlines the fundamental dialectic i n the romantic discourse between imagination and perception. Gerard's vision of her as a type rather than a real person ,dominates the description. Paul de Man points out that in romantic language: la vision se donne presque comme pre'sence, comme paysage reel ... la fusion entre l a matiere et la conscience se fait en confondant perception et reverie, en sacrifiant en fait la conscience a l'objet. 6 Throughout Gerard's narration the ontological status of the object dissolves, as his poetic language represents i t as an archetypal mythos. But i t is also his language which creates the vision and allows him to believe, i f only for a while, that his dreams are reality. As his voyage progresses and GeYard learns new languages, he no longer confuses his perception with his projection but discovers the Orient as i t i s .  -39-  Denotation The longing for an exotic Orient and the language Gerard uses to interpret his adventures permit him to remain on a fantasy level. However, numerous problems occur because he can only superficially understand foreign cultures and people, owing to his inability to communicate.  For example, he writes that his encounters with women  in Vienna were merely studies in customs, rather than the deep involvements he had f i r s t imagined them to be, because he could never exchange ideas or express himself to them: Je m'e'tais laisse' aller avec complaissance \ deerire * mes amours de rencontre, mais ce n'etait que comme etude de moeurs lointaines: i l s'agissait de femmes qui ne parlent a peu pres aucune langue europeenne ... (p. 60) Not only does Gerard regret his surface knowledge of the people and places he v i s i t s , but he is often put in humiliating or d i f f i c u l t situations because of his incapacity to understand.  For instance, on  one occasion in Greece, Gerard misinterprets the words of an old woman, just as he misinterpreted her gesture (as discussed in chapter one). Gerard thinks the woman is leading him to an adventure, but in fact she only wants to s e l l him the services of a young g i r l : Une v i e i l l e femme s'approche de l a table ou . j'etais assis et me dit: k'oxby <+So< Ji Xto^XLJ On sait deja que le grec moderne s'eToigne beaucoup moins qu'on ne croit de l'ancien ... Je ne me donne pas pour un hellehiste de premiere force, mais je voyais bien par le second mot qu'il s'agissait de quelque chose de beau. Quant au substantif ... j'en cherchais en vain l a racine dans ma memoire meublee  -40-  seulement des dizaines classiques de Lancelot ... Comme elle me faisait signe de l a suivre, je l a suivis ... Tout a coup l a v i e i l l e se mit a s i f f l e r , l'une des paysannes s'arreta et passa prbcipitamment par une des ..ouvertures de l a haie. Je compris tout de suite l a signification du mot ... II s'agissait d'une sorte de chasse aux jeunes f i l l e s (p. 86-87). Without actual knowledge of the old woman's language, Gerard can only guess her intention.  But, unlike gestures or objects, language  is not decodable according to a connotative system. He must learn the languages i n order to decipher real meaning. The language problem hinders real social contact.  On one hand  this non-communication permits Ge'rard to remain in his imaginary world as he simply guesses meaning, on the other hand, i t forces him more and more into solitude.  For example, although he knows one word i n Egyptian,  'tayeb', which is a general expression of good w i l l , Ge'rard i s unable to communicate anything beyond this greeting. Thus he is alienated from the private and social l i f e of the native people even when the opportunity to involve himself arises.  In one instance, he disguises himself as:' an  Egyptian i n order to participate i n a wedding ceremony. When invited into the family's house to continue the celebration, he had to renounce the adventure because he i s unfamiliar with the language and "pas encore assez sur de l a prononciation du mot 'tayeb' *' (p. 98). At a more c r i t i c a l level, Ge'rard is helpless i n dealing with his slave g i r l , Zeynab, because they cannot speak to each other.  Although  he tries to interact with her, the inability to communicate causes many problems.  For example, on the f i r s t day of her arrival she refuses to  -41-  eat.  This concerns Gerard and he attempts to find out why: Je sentais qu'il valait mieux parler, meme avec la certitude de ne pas etre compris, que de se livrer a une pantomime ridicule. Elle rdpondait quelques mots qui signifiaient problablement qu'elle ne comprenait pas, et auxquels je repliquai: Tayeb. C'e'tait toujours un commencement de dialogue (p. 185).  However, there is no dialogue:  Zeynab answers "Mafisch" and Ge'rard  admits that i t is a "mot inconnu dont 1'expression m'attrista beaucoup" Cp. 185).  On another occasion Ge'rard enters the room of his slave and is surprised to find rows of onions hanging from the ceiling.  Unfamiliar  with this Egyptian custom, and unable to understand Zeynab's explanation, he pulls down the onions.  He consequently upsets the slave who  repeatedly calls him "pharaon".  This word puzzles Gerard until  he  learns of it's significance: ... imagine ma surprise, lorsqu'en entrant un matin dans l a chambre de l'esclave, je trouvai une guirlande d'oignons suspendue en travers de l a porte, et d'autres oignons disposes avec symeltrie au-dessus de la place ou elle dormait. Croyant que c'e'tait un simple enfantillage, je de'tachai ces ornements peu propres a parer l a chambre, et je les envoyai negligemment dans l a cour; mais voilk l'esclave qui se leve furieuse et de'solee, s'en va ramasser les oignons en pleurant et les remet a leur place avec de grands signes d'adoration. II f a l l u t , pour s'expliquer, attendre l'arrivee de Mansour. Provisoirement je recevais un deluge d'imprecations dont l a plus claire e'tait le mot 'pharaon'! je ne savais trop s i je devais me facher ou l a plaindre. Enfin Mansour arriva, et^j'appris que j'avais renverse' un sort, que j'etais cause des malheurs les plus terribles qui fondraient sur elle et sur moi. Apres tout, dis-je "a Mansour, nous sommes  -42-  dans un pays ou les oignons ont e'td' des dieux ... Mais l'esclave ne voulait rien entendre et repet.ait en se tournant vers moi: Pharaon! Mansour m'apprit que cela voulait dire "un etre impie et tyrannique!": je £us affecte" de ce reproche, mais bien aise d'apprendre que le nom des anciens rois de ce pays etait devenu une unjure (p. 211). Gerard i s fascinated with words. As seen i n the above passage, he is more interested i n the use of the word "pharaon" and its meaning than with Zeynab's abuse.  He rises above a subjective response to the  situation, such as being hurt or angry at the insult, because he is more concerned with knowledge than with his own feelings.  This i s why  he i s able to put aside his illusions i n favour of authenticity.  Con-  sequently, i n attempting to approach the truth of oriental cultures, Gerard must abandon his fantasies.  He replaces them with facts and  translations of customs, thus proving to the reader that he is apparently more concerned with a real account of the Orient than with his illusions about i t . truth.  He has a sense of responsibility towards words and  In such a context, inaccuracy and self-indulgence would be tant-  amount to betraying his intellectual honesty. There are numerous instances of misunderstandings due to Gerard's inability to communicate.  One of these, however, occurs because of a  cultural nuance i n meaning. The misadventure on the boat from Egypt to Lebanon happens because Gerard unfortunately addresses the ship's boy by an endearment, rather than the insult he intends. The captain, assuming that Gerard loves the boy, offers to trade him for the slave Zeynab.  Contemplating the problem, Gerard comments upon the difficulty  -43of meaning and language for a foreigner: L'-et-onnement de l'Armeriien me f i t apercevoir qu'il y avait dans cette affaire un de ces absurdes quiproquos philologiques s i communs entre les personnes qui savent mediocrement les langues. Le mot 'kabibe', s i singulierement traduit l a v e i l l e par l'Armenien, avait, au contraire, l a signification la plus charmante et l a plus amoureuse du monde. Je ne sais pourquoi le mot 'petit drole' l u i avait paru rendre parfaitement cette idde en francais , (p. 267). The need to communicate basic ideas and his desire to learn about the places and people he v i s i t s force Gerard to learn new languages. Hence, he moves away from decoding according to preconceived notions, to decoding from real experience.  The learning of languages opens the  way for him to understand the complexities of oriental society. It i s not only by familiarizing himself with the new language codes that Ge'rard gains new insights into the Orient, but also by experiencing situations in daily l i f e .  Before involving himself i n running a house  in Cairo and acquiring the knowledge needed for the task, Gerard projected a fantasy image of a carefree l i f e .  His anticipation proved  unfounded when tested against the reality of living day to day i n a foreign culture. No longer able to apply the theoretical constructs of his own hypothetical system to real situations, he has to learn new codes.  This process illustrates what Jakobson calls "recoding" or 7 "code switching". Although Ge'rard, as a European, always remains an observer of the oriental culture, he moves from being outside the cultural system (alienation due to his personal expectations), to being inside the  -44-  system.  He proceeds beyond the point of merely observing the signi-  fiers and attributing known signifieds to them. The referent of the signs becomes for him extra-linguistic reality.  Within the text i t -  self this process can be seen as the narrator shifting position from that of 'reader' of a marvelous Orient, to being a 'writer' of the real Orient.  Gerard 'tells' about the things he learns, thus becoming the  encoder of new information. The passages which describe the real Orient have a denotative emphasis.  Gerard articulates the new meaning he has  learned, and performs what Jakobson refers to as " l e processus d'encodage (qui) va du sens au son".  g  One of the myths that the narrator eventually discounts i s that of the fabulous oriental harem: Voila done une illusion qu'il faut perdre encore, les de'lices du harem, l a toute-puissance du mari ou du maltre, des femmes charmantes s'unissant pour faire le bonheur d'un seul: l a religion ou les coutumes temperent singulierement cet ideal, qui a secluit tant d'Europeens. Tous ceux qui sur la f o i de nos prejuges, avaient compris ainsi l a vie orientale, se sont vus decourages en bien peu de temps (p. 2 0 2 ) . Gerard continues with a long explanation of the real situation of the oriental harem.  In this quotation the discourse has changed from roman-  t i c anticipation to an objective and analytical mode of expression. The nouns such as " i l l u s i o n " and "prejuges", the imperative, " i l faut perdre", the verb "a seduit" and the participle "decourages" a l l reinforce the pragmatic message. The reader of the journal i s being taught the reality of oriental harems and is made aware of the false European notions.  -45-  Gelrard, writing like an ethnologist, describes his observations based on empirical evidence and corrects certain misconceptions. Comparing Gerard's voyage, i n which the narrator alters his romantic view, to that of Chateaubriand, who persists in seeing only how and what he wishes, Michel Butor writes: "Le pelerinage de Chateaubriand est un voyage dans l'histoire, celui de Ge'rard dans le 9 mensonge de l'histoire."  By revealing the reality of oriental society,  Gerard exposes the fiction of occidental opinions. He denies exoticism i n favor of historical authenticity.  Barthes discusses this confron-  tation i n Mythologies: En somme l'exotisme reVele bien sa justification profonde, qui est de nier toute situation de l'histoire. 10 As Ge'rard's voyage progresses, his personal ideals about the Orient are rejected as illusions.  He undergoes an unexpected i n i t i a -  tion, gaining wisdom and experience at the expense of the fantastic "ties inconnues et parfumees" he so desired. The transition from dreams to reality is d i f f i c u l t ; Ge'rard s t i l l yearns to "soulever un coin du voile austere de l a deesse Sais"  (p. 90), but must be satisfied with  simply observing the veiled women in the market place.  Hence, his  lucid observations contain a note of disappointment, a sense of loss. When Ge'rard re-evaluates popular ideas about oriental harems, the description of how they were thought to be is more appealing than how they are in reality.  The images of "les devices du hafeme, l a toute-  puissance du mari ou du maltre, des femmes charmantes s'unissant pour  -46-  faire le bonheur d'un seul', indicate Gerard's nostalgia for the ideal harem.  Stripped of i t s exoticism, the harem becomes a mundane social  fact. Gerard alters his ideals about the Orient and he also learns to question his own desire for the ideal woman. He is attracted by the exotic qualities of oriental woman and hopes that in her difference he w i l l find true love.  But he later questions the validity, of his desire,  and wonders i f the impression the woman's charms have on him w i l l last: II y a quelque chose de tres seduisant dans une femme d'un pays lointain et singulier, qui parle une langue inconnue, dont le costume et les habitudes frappent deja par 1' etrangete" seule, et qui enfin n'a rien de ces vulgaritgs de detail que 1'habitude nous revele chez les femmes de notre patrie. Je subis quelque temps cette fascination de couleur locale, je l'ecoutais babiller, je l a voyais Staler l a bigarrure de ses vetements: c'e'tait comme un oiseau splendide que je posseclais en cage: mais cette impression pouvait-elle toujours durer? (p. 179). In the case of Zeynab his fascination does not last, and before he leaves the Orient he gives her away to another family. In rectifying various occidental myths about the Orient, Gerard puts into question his very reason for travelling.  His search for  signs (to confirm imaginary signifieds) and the desire to live like a hero in a novel become illusory goals when confronted with reality. The voyage, which seemed a promise of marvelous adventures, becomes simply a process of revealing reality.  Unlike the hopeful explorer  in search of islands of eternal beauty that he believed himself to be,  -47-  Gerard admits that he only finds the "humble verite '. 1  The "combinaisons  dramatiques ou romanesques" which he so longed for are rejected as being lies: L'humble verite' n'a pas les ressources immenses des combinaisons dramatiques ou romanesques. Je receuille un a un des evehements qui n'ont de merite que par leur simplicite' mSme, et je sais qu'il serait aise' pourtant, fut-ce dans l a relation d'une traversee aussi vulgaire que celle du golfe de Syrie, de faire nattre des peripeties vraiment dignes d'attention: mais l a reality grimace a cote" du mensonge, et i l vaut mieux, ce me semble, dire naivement, comme les anciens navigateurs: "Tel jour, nous n'avons rien vu en mer qu'un morceau de bois qui f l o t t a i t a l'aventure: t e l autre, qu'un goeland aux ailes grises ..." jusqu'au moment trop rare au 1'action se rechauffe et se complique d'un canot de sauvages qui viennent apporter des ignames et des cochons de l a i t rotis" (p. 267). The disappointment and disillusionment Gerard experiences while visiting various countries i s gradual. As he moves from one place to another, he optimistically searches for signs he recognizes. Once he realizes the sign is empty, void of the desired signified, Gerard expresses sorrow for the loss of a dream. For example, on leaving Cairo, once the city of A Thousand and One Nights, Gerard notes that i t is now i n ruins, destroyed by the passage of time and modern progress : Ce Caire-la g i t sous l a cendre et l a poussiere: 1'esprit et les progres modernes en ont trimphe' comme l a mort. Encore quelques mois, et des rues europeennes auront coupe^a angles droits l a v i e i l l e v i l l e poudreuse et muette qui croule en paix sur les pauvres fellahs. Ce qui reluit, ce qui b r i l l e , s'accroit, c'est le quartier des Francs,  -48-  l a v i l l e des Italiens, des Provencaux et des Maltais, 1'entrepot futur de l'Inae angalaise. L'Orient d'autrefois acheve d'user ses vieux costumes, ses vieux palais, ses v i e i l l e s moeurs, mais i l est dans son dernier jour ... (p. 228). Gerard carries with him the knowledge that Cairo i s no longer a city of dreams and illusions, but of memories and modern change. In the earlier chapters of Gerard's journal there i s a basic conflict between his quest for a dream and his sincere interest in other cultures and languages.  This opposition i n attitude creates an  ambiguous tone in his narration which vacillates between enthusiastic romantic expression and careful analysis of the oriental situation. In the later stage of the voyage Gerard abandons his dream quest and is content with simple descriptions of Constantinople and i t s - f e s t i vals.  The change occurs after Gerard is forced to leave his Lebanese  fiancee, owing) to his i l l health and the news of his best friend's death.  Gerard writes: Du pied de l a tour de Galata, - ayant devant moi tout l e panorama de Constantinople, de son Bosphore et de ses mers, - je tourne encore une fois mes regards vers l'Egypte, depuis longtemps disparue! Au dela de 1'horizon paisible qui m'entoure, sur cette terre d'Europe, musulmane, i l est vrai, mais rappelant deja l a patrie, je sens toujours l'ehlouissement de ce mirage lointain qui flamboie et poudroie dans mon souvenir ... comme 1'image du s o l e i l qu'on regarde fixement poursuit longtemps l ' o e i l fatigue' qui s'est replonge' dans 1'ombre.  -49-  Ce qui m'entoure ajoute \ cette impression: un cimetiere turc, a 1'ombre des murs de Galata ... ... Tout cela n'a rien de bien gai pour le moment. Rentrons dans le passe'. Ce que je regrette aujourd'hui de l'Egypte, ce ne sont pas les oignons monstrueux dont les Hebreux pleuraient 1'absence sur l a terre de Chanaan. C'est un ami, c'est une femme, - l'un sdpard'de moi seulement par l a tombe, l'autre a jamais perdue (pp. 433-434). The rest of the voyage is written in a direct and r e a l i s t i c narration.  Gerard's personal feelings and illusions are no longer as  dramatically conveyed. One important aspect of Gerard's quest i s his spiritual longing. This desire for a transcendental experience i s intrinsically associated with his knowledge of ancient myths.  These literary signs point  to the Orient as the home of the gods and divine truth.  However, as  with the other dreams this goal i s unattainable because i t too is an imaginary ideal.  Ge'rard must return to the literary sign and listen  to legends and religious stories i n order to find an exotic Orient or spiritual experience.  Before examining the legends Gerard listens to,  i t i s necessary to investigate his religious quest.  -50-  Notes to Chapter Two: 1. Adam Schaff, Langage et connaissance . (Paris: 1969), pp. 224-225.  Editions Anthropos,  2. Roman Jakobson, Essais de linguistique geherale, Editions de Minuit, 1963), p. 94. 3. Umberto Eco, A Theory of Semiotics ,. (London: Press, 1967), p. 61.  (Paris:  Indiana University  4. Paul de Man 'Structure intentionnelle de 1'image romantique' Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 51 (1960), pp. 68-84; p. 69. 5.  ibid., p. 75.  6. ibid., p. 75. 7. Roman Jakobson, op. c i t . , p. 95 8. ibid., p. 93. 9. Michel Butor, 'Le Voyage et l'ecriture', Repertoire IV, Editions de Minuit, 1974), p. 28 10.  Roland Barthes, Mythologies , (Paris: p. 185.  (Paris:  Editions du Seuil, 1957),  -51-  Chapter Three  Myth and Mysticism:  The Empty Chalice  In chapter one, we described Ge'rard's journey to the Orient as being undertaken through an act of faith.  His search for the referent  of the signifier, the Orient behind the v e i l , alluded to i n literature, legend and myth, is a quest which inevitably invokes a religious character.  To some extent, we have already explored the i n i t i a l phase of the  triadic structure (as shown on page six) of Gerard's longing and disappointment and can see the relationship between sign and referent, signifier and signified as one of opposition rather than being complementary.  In this chapter, we w i l l examine how this schism w i l l invite  a theological resolution. This discusion w i l l go farther i n the elaboration of the triadic structure of desire and signification that has been examined so far. As we have seen, "A" (the naive idealization of what the Orient can offer, as signifier), is ultimately deflated by "B" (the experiences Ge'rard undergoes throughout his travels).  The process resulted i n a  demystification of Ge'rard's conception of the Orient and the reader's conception of the promise of reference made by the signifier.  The  Orient he visits does not conform to the Orient he imagined at the onset of his voyage. This deflation of "A" results i n a sense of loss, represented on one plane as the abandonment of romantic idealism, which is replaced by a descriptive or historical narrative.  In a sense,  Gerard's encounter with oriental religion w i l l undergo the same process  -52-  o£ demystification, but not necessarily i n the same way nor with the same results. In the f i r s t process of opposition between A and B, the historical signifier (the experiences Gerard has of the real Orient) displaces Gerard's literary image of the Orient. The result of this i s that there is no reconciliation between the literary or imaginary signifier and the historical signifier: i n fact, the literary signifier has no signified, i t is empty.  This nothingness on the experiential plane, however, i s  not inconsistent with religious experience.  The failure of meaning i n  the mundane world is what gives rise to the possibility of transcendental meaning beyond this world.  This transcendental beyond i s the basis  of religious belief; i t provides a domain of infinite possibility and promise of spiritual existence. Thus, the failure of signification (when the imaginary signified A is displaced by the historical signified B) reinforces the project of spirituality, "C". The religions Gerard encounters on his journey are historically determined and are consequently institutions which suffer the same limits as a l l the other features of the Orient. Their variation and interchangeability are proof of their profane, inconstancy.  Nevertheless,  this is not sufficient to undermine the spiritual project; Gerard persists i n looking for a transcendental experience.  This, however, w i l l  only be possible when he listens to religious stories. Gerard i s fascinated by oriental religions for both emotional and theoretical reasons.  He is knowledgeable about Middle Eastern mythology  -53-  and religious beliefs and is interested in the associations between the ancient religions and their modern counterparts.  For example, he des-  cribes at length how the Greek goddess Venus was incorporated into the Christian Virgin Mary: Mais j ' a i voulu surtout montrer que le culte des Grecs s'adressait principalement a l a Venus austere, ideale et mystique, que les ne'o-platoniciens d'Alexandrie purent opposer, sans honte, a l a Vierge des chre'tiens. Cette derniere, plus humaine, plus facile 'a comprendre pour tous, a vaincu desormais la philosophique Uranie. Aujourd'hui la Panagia grecque a succe'de' sur ces m§mes rivages aux honneurs de 1'antique Aphrodite: l'eglise ou la chapelle se rebatit des ruines du temple ... (pp. 77-78). Intrigued by various oriental ceremonies and cults, Gerard associates them with the ancient practices of high priests, which he considers the true beginnings of religion.  While watching a Muslim fes-  t i v a l in Constantinople he notes that, although the modern customs are only vestiges of the earlier rites, they are reminders of the sacred practices of antiquity. He writes: On peut s'arreter un instant aux spectacles de la place du Serasquier, a ces scenes de folie qui se renouvellent dans tous les quartiers populaires, et qui prennent partout une teinte mystique inexplicable pour nous autres Europeens. Qu'est-ce, par exemple, que Caragueuz, ce type extraordinaire de fantaisie et impurete', qui ne se produit publiquement que dans les fetes religieuses?. N'est-ce pas un souvenir e'gare' du dieu de Lampsaque, de ce Pan, pere universel, que l'Asie pleure encore? (pp. 488-489). Gerard's theories reinforce his emotional conviction that the Orient retains primal holy truths. He hopes that by learning and participating i n these religious practices he w i l l come closer to an authentic  - 5 4 -  religious experience and discover for himself the hidden gods and truth which originated in the Orient. The multiplication of churches and sects in the Orient reveals the dissemination of the sacred, but also bears witness to i t by the resemblance between them. Profoundly intrigued by the diversity of oriental religions, Gerard attempts to define their a f f i n i t i e s .  He  refuses to choose between the various religions he finds, rather he seeks to connect them to a common origin and proposes a syncretic hypothesis uniting them a l l .  When he denies his own Catholic background -  "catholique, vraiment je l'avais oublie'" (p. 83) - i t is not in order to adopt another belief, but to liberate himself from an exclusive and absolute faith.  He avoids missionaries and zealots who perpetrate the  idea of an exclusive religion.  He opposes a l l varieties of fanaticism,  but admires the tolerance of the Muslims i n Constantinople who live in peaceful coexistence with different cults and beliefs.  At the end of  his voyage Gerard notes that i t is the tolerance of the dervishes i n Turkey which leads him to admire their faith above a l l other oriental faiths.  It is the dervishes who blend different dogmas and avoid s t r i c t  religious laws, in other words they practice a sort of universal r e l i gion.  This form of worship appeals to Gerard and he declares: Qui, je me suis senti paien en Grece, musulman en Egypte, panthelste au milieu des Druses et devot sur les mers aux astres-dieux de l a Chaldee; mais a Constantinople, j ' a i compris l a grandeur de cette tolerance universelle qu'exercent aujourd-hui les Turcs. ... J'ai ete' fort touchy k Constantinople en voyant de bons derviches assister "a l a messe. La  -55-  parole de Dieu leur paraissait bonne dans toutes les langues. Du reste, i l s n'obligent nersonne a tourner comme un volant au son des flutes, ce qui pour eux-memes est l a plus sublime fa^on d'honorer le c i e l (p. 624). Gerard's personal syncretic belief system i s so vaste and consequently so vague that i t embraces, and risks confusing, a l l systems. He states:  "Pour moi Dieu est partout, quelque nom qu'on l u i donne"  Cp. 469).  However, this universal deism i s so infinite, "God" seems  to evade Gerard and he i s unable to feel the divine presence anywhere. It i s the desire to experience this presence , that partially motivates Gerard to continue his quest.  But, between the two poles of his voyage,  Greece and Constantinople, Ge'rard cannot find the hypothetical heart of the Orient which promises to reveal a spiritual truth.  Believing i n a  syncretic . system, Ge'rard rejects a l l established religions.  Unable to  adopt one religious faith, he must remain outside them. A l l the faiths he encounters, although equal and interchangeable, are not complete i n themselves.  In Gerard's imagination they a l l refer to another more  venerable and purer religion.  For him these modern religions have no  signification i n themselves, they are signs referring back to an older and truer faith, that of antiquity when men spoke the true word of God: ... Les gehies des premiers temps ont puise' pour nous l a sagesse. Ils peher.raient avec terreur dans ces sanctuaires estranges ou s'e'laborait l'avenir des hommes, et ressortaient plus tard, le front ceint de lueurs divines, pour reve'ler ^ leurs peuples des traditions antelrieures au de'luge et remontant aux premiers jours du monde (p. 177).  -56-  It is this experience of sacred initiation and revelation of the divine word that Gerard hopes to find.  The modern oriental religions  become for him only an endless chain of substitutions which never correspond to his ideal. The f i r s t country which Gerard hopes w i l l be a spiritual refuge is Greece.  Before arriving there he anticipates discovering the holy  temples and sacred grounds of the gods. He tells the story of Polyphile and Polia who made a pilgrimage to the Greek island Cythere.  There,  the two lovers travel to the temple of Venus where their spiritual union is f u l f i l l e d : C'est alors qu'avait lieu et se continuait nuit par nuit ce pelerinage, qui, a travers les plaines et les monts rajeunis de la Grece, conduisait nos deux amants a* tous les temples renommes de Venus celeste et faisait arriver enfin au principal sanctuaire de la de'esse, a L ' f l e de Cythere, ou s'accomplissait l'union spirituelle des deux religieux, Polyphile et Polia (pp. 69-70). Gerard also gives a long account of the religious ceremony 'la messe de Venus' in which Polyphile and Polia participate at the end of their quest.  This story serves as an inspiration for Gerard, as an  example both of love and of religious devotion.  He wants to v i s i t the  temples of Venus, just as Polyphile and Polia did, i n order to relive their experience and to discover notes:  his own spiritual fulfilment. He  "Pouvais-je faire mieux que de relire avant de toucher "a  Cythere le livre estrange de Polyphile et Polia?"  (p. 70).  However, Gerard soon learns that his dream of finding a religious haven i n Greece is impossible.  Modern Greece no longer pays hommage to  -57-  i t s ancient gods and goddesses.  Gerard laments:  et v o i c i mon reveil ... les dieux sont envoles"  "Voila mon reve ... (p. 64).  The ancient  temples are ruined and neglected, often replaced by churches. symbols of the gods have been supplanted  The  by buildings which, according  to Gerard, signify the expulsion of the ancient gods.  In the following  prayer to the forsaken gods, Gerard expresses his despair and outrage at the thoughtlessness of men, who have abandoned the true gods of antiquity: J'evoquais de l a mer defserte et du sol aride je m'dtais d i t en voyant s i t r i s t e et s i nu tout cet archipel des Cyclades, ces cotes depouillees, ces baies irihospitalieres, que l a malediction de Neptune avait frappe' l a Grece oublieuse: ... La vcrte naiade est morte epuisee dans sa grotte, les dieux des bocages ont disparu de cette terre sans ombre, et toutes ces divines animations de la matiere se sont retirees peu a peu comme l a vie d'un corps glace". Oh! n'a-t-on pas compris ce dernier c r i jets' par un monde mourant, quand les pales navigateurs s'en vinrcnt raconter qu'en passant, la nuit, prbs des cotes de Tjessalie, i l s avaient entendu une grande voix qui c r i a i t : "Pan est mort!" tort, eh quoi, l u i , l e compagnon des esprits simples et joyeux, le dicu qui behissait 1'hymen fecond de l'homme et de l a terre! i l est mort, l u i par qui tout avait coutume de vivre! mort sans lutte au pied de l'Olympe profane, mort comme un dieu peut seulcment mourir, faute d'encens et d'hommages, et frappe" au coeur comme un pbre par 1'ingratitude et l'oubli! (p. 83). Gerard leaves Greece disappointed: souvenirs de l'antiquite grecque" meconna is sable"  (p. S9).  "J'aura is mi eux aime les r  mais tout cela est dctruit, rase",  He turns towards Egypt in hopes of finding  the land of his spiritual dream.  -58-  ... l'Egypte, grave et pieuse, est toujours le pays des ehigmes et des mysteres ... La patience etait l a plus grande vertu des inities antiques. Pourquoi passer s i vite? Arretons-nous et cherchons a soulever un coin du voile austere de l a de"esse de Sais (p. 90). The pyramids are the universal symbol of Egypt's history and grandeur.  They are also architectural monuments which permit the ex-  plorer to enter into physical contact with the sacred past.  The ancient  hieroglyphics on the walls reveal.- the progress of the initiate who travels from l i f e into death and then to rebirth.  Ge'rard and a fellow  traveller discuss the meaning of these symbols and their universal signification i n a l l religions.  Their academic analysis inspires Ge'rard  to note that the Egyptian system can be seen as the prototype of a l l religious systems.  But the discussion of religion i s not i n i t s e l f  spiritually satisfying, i t is only theoretically interesting. Avec ce systems, dis-je, i l est possible d'expliquer materiellement toutes les religions. Mais qu'y gagnerons-nous? Rien. Nous venons seulement de passer deux heures en causant d'origines d'histoire. Maintenant le soir vient, i l s'agit de chercher un grte, (p. 227). The mysteries surrounding the pyramids remind Ge'rard of a feeling he has for Mozart's 'La Flute enchantee': he enthusiastically describes the possibility of such a spectacle being held within one of the pyramids, but this does not provide him with the desired sense of the holy, nor a sense of communion with Egyptian antiquity.  He is conscious, rather,  of the unreality of the pyramids which seem like a theatrical stage set. The next stop on Gerard's itinerary is Lebanon, where he feels that  -59he has finally arrived at the true land of his spiritual expectations: Ce pays qui a ranime" toutes les forces et les inspirations de ma jeunesse ne me devait pas moins sans doute; j'avais bien senti deja qu'en mettant l e pied sur cette terre maternelle, en me replongeant aux sources venerees de notre histoire et de nos croyances, j ' a l l a i s arreter le cours de mes ans, que je me refaisais enfant a ce berceau du monde, jeune encore au sein de cette jeunesse eternelle (p. 347). Gerard quickly realizes that this is not the inspired country he imagined.  The earlier religious purity and tolerance of the people  have been destroyed by war and the antagonism of cults and institutions which teem with discord.  Gerard reflects on this situation and notes:  Au fond, ces peuples s'estiment entre eux plus qu'on ne croit, et ne peuvent oublier les liens qui les unissaient jadis. Tourmentes et excites soit par les missionnaires, soit par les moines, dans l'interet des influences europeennes, i l se menagent a l a maniera des condottieri d'autrefois, qui livraient de grands combats sans effusion de sang. Les moines prechent, i l faut bien courir aux armes: les missionnaires angleis declament et payent, i l faut bien se montrer vaillant: mais i l y a au fond de tout cela doute et decouragement (p. 334). Gerard discovers that the Holy Land, once a signifier of s p i r i t ual revelation, retains only vestiges of truth,' poor substitutes of Paradise and dying traces of a lost Unity. The ideal seems continually to evade Gerard, or to be just beyond his reach: on reve 1 Inde comme en Europe on reve 1'Afrique: 1  toujours au-dela de notre horizon actuel" (p. 196).  "En Afrique,  1'ideal rayonne This remark in-  dicates that Gerard i s aware that his quest has no end, and that the desired experience i s nothing but a projection or vain ambition.  -60-  However, he does not abandon his dream and continues his voyage i n hopes of attaining his goal. One ancient religion that Gerard admires i s that of the Egyptian goddess Isis.  His account of the initiation rites and the goal of the  neophyte i n the Isis cult i s reminiscent of Ge'rard's own aim to "soulever un coin du voile austere de l a de'esse de Sals" (p. 90).  The neophyte,  who successfully accomplishes the required t r i a l s , is rewarded with a glimpse of the goddess, the supreme spiritual experience. L'aspiration du ne'ophyte vers l a divinity, aide'e des lectures, des instructions et du jeune, l'amenait a un t e l degre" d'enthousiasme qu'il etait digne enfin de voir tomber devant l u i les voiles sacres de l a de'esse. Lia., son etonnement etait au comble en voyant tout a coup l a ressemblance de l a femme qu'il aimait le plus ou de 1'ideal qu'il s'etait forme' de la beaute' l a plus parfaite (p. 224). It was the hidden goddess behind the v e i l which embodied divine truth for the Egyptian priest.  For Ge'rard, the oriental woman i s like the  image of Isis and she i s the ultimate object of desire. Gerard's "dgsir de l'Orient" (p. 717), is similar to his desire for the perfect woman; both are unattainable ideals and possess spir i t u a l truths.  The veiled oriental woman represents a mystery and  promise of complete fulfillment.  He concludes that an Eastern marriage  is one source of happiness: II faut que je m'unisse a\ quelque f i l l e inge'nue de ce sol sacre' qui est notre premiere patrie a tous, que j e me retrempe a ces sources vivifiantes de l'humanite', d'oia ont de'coule'  -61-  la poesie et les croyances de nos peres (p. 338). Union with a woman of the Orient seems a way of establishing roots i n this spiritual centre of the world; his projected marriage also promises to provide access to the lost harmony of the golden age and a participation i n the regeneration of his v i t a l forces.  Gerard's  search for metaphysical truth is superimposed on his desire to find the garden of Eden, to be reborn and return to the maternal origins of man which both the woman and the Orient represent for him. Eventually Ge'rard finds the g i r l of his dreams, a young Druze princess.  Her religion appeals to Gerard because "elle est tres  tolerante et (qu') elle admet toutes les formes possibles de cultes et toutes les revelations connues des manifestations diverses, mais e'galement saintes, de l a Divinite'" (p. 426). Druze faith becomes a sort of initiation.  Gerard's acceptance into the In the beginning he i s for-  bidden to marry the princess because the Druze religion allows no converts, but by providing proof of his a f f i l i a t i o n with the Masons, Gerard succeeds i n convincing the girl's father that he i s a descehdent of this faith: La franc-maconnerie a, comme tu sais, herite" de la doctrine des templiers; voila le rapport etabli, voilk pourquoi les Druses parlent de leurs coreligionnaires d'Europe, disperses dans divers pays, et principalement dans les montagnes de l'Ecosse ... Mais tu sais que je suis moi-meme l'un des enfants de l a veuve, un louveteau ( f i l s de maitre), que j ' a i ete' nourri dans l'horreur du meurtre d'Adoniram et dans 1'admiration du saint Temple ... je ne suis plus pour les Druses un infidele, je suis un 'muta-darassin! un etudiant (p. 429).  -62-  Once accepted by the Druze priest Ge'rard believes that his dream has been accomplished:  "Mon reve absurde devient ma vie, 1'impossible  s'est realise'!" (p. 428). Circumstances, however, force Gerard to renounce his plans: he becomes i l l because of the climate and has to leave. He accepts his disappointment as the result of his personal destiny: "Mon ami, l'homme s'agit et Dieu le mene" (p. 432). Ge'rard's marriage does not take place and his spiritual journey is not completed.  However, the possibility remains that i f Gerard had.  been able to marry, his quest would have been f u l f i l l e d .  Being denied  his dream does not invalidate its potentiality, and Gerard i s able to retain his idealized image of marriage. The dream of spiritual fulfillment through marriage is based on Gerard's idealization of the oriental woman, the Isis myth and other cultural and personal images of veiled women. Referring back to the triadic model (page 6 of the introduction), this image of marriage i s 'A' i n the model, the referent of the signified being entirely imaginary.  But, unlike other situations during his travels when Gerard  learned that his anticipation of a dreamlike Orient was not real, his failed marriage plan allows him to create a new imaginary sign, 'C in the model. Since the ideal image of his marriage i s not demystified, this idea remains i n the realm of possibility.  Spiritual ful-  fillment through marriage retains i t s imaginary status but i s now a sign whose referent is produced by Ge'rard himself.  -63-  An interesting event occurs while Gerard is in Lebanon: he witnesses a second miracle (the f i r s t occurred i n Egypt).  The burial  of a Dervish priest is disrupted by the recalcitrant nature of the dead man, who hinders the procession from entering the tomb. This incident reminds Ge'rard of a story by Lucien in 'La De'esse Syrienne': C' etait le second miracle turc que j ' eusse e'te' admis a voir (on se souvient de celui de l a Dhossa, ou le cheirif de La Mecque passe a cheval sur un chemin pave' par les corps des croyants): mais i c i le spectacle de ce mort capricieux, qui s'agitait dans les bras des porteurs et refusait d'entrer dans son tombeau, me remit en memoire un passage de Lucien, qui attribue les memes fantaisies a une statue de bronze de l'Apollon syrien (p. 308). Witnessing this miracle also inspires Ge'rard to describe his own belief in the miraculous: Selon Lucien, cette manoeuvre tenait a une certaine habilete' gymnastique des pretres; mais f a u t - i l avoir pleine confiance en cette assertion du Voltaire de 1' antiquite'? Pour moi, j ' a i toujours e'te' plus dispose'a tout croire qu'a tout nier, et la Bible admettant les prodiges attribue's a l'Apollon syrien, lequel n'est autre que Baal, je ne vois pas pourquoi cette puissance accorde' aux gehies rebelles et aux esprits de Python n'aurait pas produit de tels effets; j e ne vois pas non plus pourquoi l'ame immortelle d'un pauvre santon n'exercerait pas une action magnetique sur les croyants convaincus de sa saintete' (p. 308). There is a conflict between Gerard's perception of himself as a sceptical European, "... moi-meme ... un Parisien nourri d'ide"es philosophiques, un f i l s de Voltaire" (p. 263), and his claim to be a deeply  -64-  religious man: miracles.  this i s demonstrated i n his confession of belief i n  His search for a personal religious experience i s genuine  and overrides any Western cynicism.  However, i t i s his refusal to  adopt a specific dogma which makes him avoid a commitment to any one Oriental religion.  Even his decision to become a Druze i s due less  to religious conviction than to his desire to marry the princess. Their conjugal l i f e , he feels w i l l be the door to spiritual happiness. Gerard leaves Lebanon unmarried and without f u l f i l l i n g his quest. Beyond his personal disappointment, there i s a sense of loss for the spiritual land he anticipated.  But on arriving in the Holy land he  remarks that here is indeed the cradle of a l l religions: Ce rivage n'est-il pas le berceau meme de toutes les croyances du monde? Interrogez le premier montagnard qui passe: i l vous dira que c'est sur ce point de la terre qu'eurent lieu les scenes primitives de l a Bible; i l vous conduira a l'endroit ou fumerent les premiers sacrifices; i l vous montrera le rocher t^che" du sang d'Abel; plus loin existait l a v i l l e d'Enochia, batie par les grants, et dont on distingue encore les traces; ailleurs c'est le tombeau de Chanaan, f i l s de Cham. Plaeez-vous au point de vue de l'antiquite' grecgue, et vous verrez aussi descendre de ces monts tout le riant cortege des divinites dont la Grece accepta et transforma le culte, propage'" par les emigrations pheniciennes. Ces bois et ces montagnes ont retenti des cris de Venus pleurant Adonis, et c'etait dans ces grottes mvsterieuses, ou quelques sectes idolatres ce'lebrent encore des orgies nocturnes, qu'on a l l a i t prier et pleurer sur 1'image de l a victime, pale idole de marbre ou d'ivoire aux blessures saignantes, autour de laquelle les femmes aplorees imitaient les cris plaintifs de l a deesse (pp. 308-9). The Holy Land i s a sign, meaningful only when i t is decoded  -65-  according to b i b l i c a l or mythological codes.  Once another code is  applied, that of personal experience and observation, Ge'rard can no longer consider the sign as before.  The promise of a spiritual centre  and experience vanishes as he realizes the land is corrupted by war and prejudice. Ge'rard's last stop in his travels is Constantinople. at the time of Ramadar , ani important Muslim festival.  He arrives  However, un-  like the other cities in the Orient, this one is not a religious centre for Ge'rard.  Here, he remains an observer, enjoying the festivities but  not trying to become personally involved. He notes the contrast between the religious tolerance that he finds in Constantinople and the varieties of fanaticism he found in other countries. At the end of his travel account, Gerard retells a fable about the dervishes, who mix various dogmas and, without accepting any s t r i c t doctrine or observances, practice a sort of universal religion: Ces derniers ont une legende des plus belles que je connaisse: "Quatre compagnons de route, un Turc, un Arabe, un Persan et un Grec, voulurent faire un gouter ensemble. Ils se cotiserent de dix paras chacun. Mais i l s'agissait de savoir ce qu' ohcheterait: - "Uxum", dit le Turc. "Ineb", dit 1'Arabe. - "Inghur", dit le Parsan. "Stafilion", dit le Grec. Chacun voulant faire prevaloir son gout sur celui des autres, i l s en etaient venus aux coups, lorsqu'un derviche qui savait les quatre langues appela un marchand de raisins, et i l se trouva que c'e'tait ce que chacun avait demande'" (p. 624). This tale of the wise dervish is an allegory for the kind of religious tolerance and wisdom that Ge'rard searched for in the Orient.  -66-  The spiritual centre he longed for proves to be diffuse.  Gerard  can find only vague and partial remains of ancient beliefs and practices i n the contemporary ceremonies.  Lebanon attracted him because  of i t s mixture of old faiths: ... le melange de ses populations, qui re"sument peut-etre en elles toutes les croyances et toutes les superstitions de l a terre. Moise, Orphe'e. Zoroastre, Je'sus, Mahomet-, et jusqu'au Bouddha indien ont des disciples plus ou moins nombreux (p. 309). However, i t is this very promiscuity of groups which caused the dissemination and confusion of the older and truer faith.  Gerard's  anticipation of an experience of the Sacred is intimately connected with the idea of a holy centre; i t is precisely this focus which he cannot find.  A l l the oriental cities he v i s i t s prove to be disparate,  providing a confusing melange of races and cults.  Cairo is a linguis-  t i c and racial Babylon, Beirut and Constantinople contain a l l nationa l i t i e s and customs, so that the traveller no longer knows i f he is in the East or the West, at home or in a foreign country.  Europe is  already in Asia and he finds beliefs and places equivalent and interchangeable.  The Orient, once the sign of a religious centre, is now  only a geographical area, void of any personal significance for Gerard. However, the appeal of a magic Orient and religious centre remains his principal desire.  In order to transcend the world of experience, he  must revert back to his imagination and once again find the literary signs which motivated his journey in the beginning.  -67-  Chapter Four From History to Story:  The Magic Carpet  Gerard's desire for spiritual transcendence i s not realized by any Middle Eastern religious dogma. At the end of his journey, the values of A and B in the triadic model go through a reversal:  the  real Orient, which deflates Gerard's literary image of the Orient, ends up subverting i t s e l f .  The real Orient i s less interesting than  the literary image i t has given rise to throughout history.  For Nerval,  the absence of referent of the literary image is no longer a negative aspect of the literary sign.  In other words, this negativity redirects  the search for referent from a historically determined signified (the real Orient), to an imaginatively determined one (the literary Orient). In this case, no new sign is produced and the texts remain almost the same. But the reading of the literary sign i s no longer confined to the historical determination of i t s production.  The referent of Nerval's  stories seems to turn back on i t s e l f , through a kind of hermetic selfreflection.  However, the two tales studied i n this chapter complicate  this formulation. Although these stories appear to be completely l i t e rary and invite the reader to enter into their imaginary world,they have religious origins.  These tales have historically functioned as  allegorical representations of a religious experience and thus refer to an order that would either transcend the literary aspects or at least amalgamate the literary with a sense of Oriental spirituality. Nerval's stories indicate that religious experience i s founded i n the literary sign, i n i t s non-referentiality.  We shall examine these  -68-  stories in the following chapter and analyze the code system that Nerval uses i n their elaboration. As has been established, the Orient Gerard visits does not f u l f i l his ideals or anticipations of a charmed exotic country.  Al-  though he repeatedly searches for adventures and spiritual fulfilment, and endows the veiled women with imaginary qualities, he finally admits that:  "L'humble verite'n'a pas les ressources immenses des combinai-  sons dramatiques ou romanesques" (p. 267).  The dreams he cherished,  inspired by legends and stories, cannot be found, and so Gerard finds solace and satisfaction in new narrative fantasies. Throughout his voyage he requests that people t e l l him stories; in this way he is able to suspend his disappointment momentarily, lost in visions of a mythical past.  For example, while in Egypt, he learns about the great  pyramids and their beginnings: J'ecoutais cette legende avec grande attention, et je dis au consul qu'elle me semblait beaucoup plus satisfaisante que l a supposition acceptee en Europe, que ces monstrueuses constructions auraient et.e seulement des tombeaux ... (p. 196). The story of the pyramids, like the other tales that Ge'rard hears during his journey, f i t s into his image of a fairy-tale Orient.  Unlike  the real places he v i s i t s , which disappoint him when his anticipations are not realized, the legends do not require any projection, their meaning is engendered by the narration i t s e l f .  In other words, when  Gerard listens to a story, he is decoding i t s meaning within a poetic  -69-  code system and consequently is free to interpret and imagine according to his own associations.  It is no longer necessary for Ge'rard to  hope for his dream Orient while listening to legends, for i t i s there within the aesthetic message. He i s able to forget his unfulfilled desire, while suspended i n a state of aesthetic appreciation.  This  movement from yearning to satisfaction i s described by Rene' Girard: The aesthetic emotion is not desire but the ending of a l l desire, a return to calm and joy. 1 In his journal, Ge'rard transcribes the stories he hears, and notes before each one that he is not the author, but merely a captivated listener.  For example, he prefaces the story of "La Reine du  Matin" by saying: Quoique ay ant commence' fort jeune 1'etude des langues de 1'Orient, je n'en sais que les mots les plus indispensables; cependant 1'animation du recit m'interessait toujours et, avec l'aide de mes amis du caravanserail, j'arrivals a me rendre compte au moins du sujet. Je puis done rendre a. peu pres l'effet d'une de ces narrations image'es ou se plait le gehie traditionnel des Orientaux (p. 504) Although Ge'rard's tastes and desires indicate a "poetic mind," he i s not depicted as a literary artist.  His role within the Voyage  en Orient is that of a traveller, who faithfully records his thoughts and observations and copies down legends for the reader.  It is Nerval  himself who creates these stories that intrigue Ge'rard and the reader.  -70-  Through the legends, Nerval expresses his personal vision of the Orient; he creates new literary signs which describe an oriental world f u l l of cabbalistic magic, Masonic imagery and divine heroes.  Nerval  borrows the two legends described i n this chapter from Muslim traditions.  However, he retells them in such a way that they are unique  expressions of his own vision. It i s important to establish a distinction between the stories which Nerval writes and the literary fantasies which motivated Ge'rard at the beginning of his voyage.  Using the same triadic model as be-  fore, the tales that inspired Gerard can be referred to as A.  'A' is  the literary sign which i s historically and culturally engendered. It is the signified of this sign that Gerard searches for i n his travels; however, experience teaches him that the referent of that sign i s nonexistent, or at least imaginary.  The stories or literary signs that  Nerval writes belong to the category 'C', because these tales have a religious origin and their referent can be either a real event or a spiritual one. interpretation.  The ambiguity allows the reader to decide his own  -71-  Nerval's stories (C) can be read as fantasy or allegory. Neither interpretation can be definitively proved because the status of the referent remains unknown. On one level Nerval's legend can serve as a motivation for the reader to travel to. the Orient i n the same way as Ge'rard did, i n hope of finding the origin of the literary message.  In this way 'A' i n the triangle, once the catalyst for un-  dertaking the voyage to the Orient, is replaced by 'C'. 'C' becomes the sign whose referent is unknown. Although 'C' does not equal 'A' for Nerval or Ge'rard, i t can become 'A' for the reader. "Histoire Du Calife Hakem". The f i r s t legend examined here is the 'Histoire du Calife Hakem'. This story is based on the l i f e of the Druze messiah, Hakem, who lived 2  in Egypt i n 1000 A.D.  Nerval studied the Druze religion during his  travels to the Orient and retells Hakem's tragedy i n this novel. Before examining this legend i t is useful to resume the story. One evening the Caliph Hakem, disguised as a commoner, visits an Okal (a public drinking place), where he befriends a fisherman named Yousouf.  They both partake of some hashish and Hakem has a vision that  he is God. In this drugged, ecstatic state Hakem decides to declare his  love to his sister, Setamulc, and informs her that they are to  marry. When the effects of the drug wear off, Hakem fears his feeling of omnipotence was illusory, but nevertheless he insists that the marriage take place. Setalmulc and the grand-vizier, Argevan, (who has  -72-  personal ambitions for the throne) - plot to destroy Hakem and they imprison him i n an insane asylum. While there, Hakem regains confidence that he is indeed God.  He leads the madmen out of captivity;  they then set f i r e to the city and k i l l the grand-vizier. On returning to the palace to marry his sister, Hakem realizes that she has a lover (Hakem's friend Yousouf) whom he perceives for the f i r s t time as being his physical double.  Setalmulc t e l l s Yousouf to assasinate the  caliph, which he agrees to do.  However, when Yousouf recognizes Hakem  as being his mysterious friend, he attempts to protect him.  Setalmulc's  soldiers overpower them and they both die. This tale conforms to a universal scheme or "structure matricielle 3  atemporelle" as described by Claude Levi-Strauss.  He points out that  there are three basic elements to every story; a conflict, a struggle and finally a resolution.  In this legend, Hakem's love for his sister causes  the i n i t i a l conflict, the action develops as she resists him and the resolution comes with Hakem's murder. There is another conflict within this legend which is intricately connected to the f i r s t action; that of Hakem's vision of being God.  This conviction (considered authentic by  Hakem's followers) gives the final resolution, his murder, a special status.  Hakem's death is regarded as having profound religious meaning. The spiritual significance of this story is due to i t s structure,  according to A. Niel, who explains this idea i n his L'Analyse structurale des textes:  -73-  En f a i t , dans chaque recit combatif (myth, fable, trageHie ou roman), 1'Elimination - qui porte sur un ou plusieurs protagonistes - s'opere progressivement a travers une dialectique qui epouse l a forme d'un sacrifice presque r i t u e l . Tout recit aurait, dans son essence, quelque chose de religieux, etant destine' a procurer le sentiment mystique d'une unite' retrouvee. 4 Using A. Niel's model, the dramatic development of this legend can be analysed in sequences, according to specific moments i n the 'temps narratif'.  These moments or 'instants du recit' ^ oscillate  between two movements of extension and recession, imitating the alternation of victory and failure i n the hero's struggle. Hakem's story ends i n tragedy, as he fails to win his sister's love and i s eventually murdered by her.  There are eight fundamental sequences i n this  story, alternating between positive and negative moments i n Hakem's personal l i f e .  The f i r s t action i s Hakem's insight that he i s God.  This idea i s the catalyst for the succeeding actions ultimately leading to his murder. The positive assertion (that , he is God) i s followed by :  negative doubts.  The belief i n himself as a divinity remains the inter-  nal conflict with which Hakem must come to terms.  Towards the end of  his l i f e he is convinced of his divinity, and so Hakem's personal resolution i s positive.  Therefore, i n terms of Hakem's inner dilemma, this  legend has a happy ending; the hero no longer doubts that he i s God. Both content and form of the legend are necessary to i t s r e l i gious significance.  In almost a l l religious myths, the r i t u a l sacrifice  - 7 4 -  of the messiah is an essential element.  The Druze doctrine considers  Hakem's murder a vehicule for his transcendence from bodily form to a holy state. His death serves as a focus for meditation, which gives the devotee a mystical sense of unity with the sacred. This story, interpreted within the system of the Druze religious code, describes the struggles and death of Hakem, who is considered as God.  This code justifies Hakem's actions and desires as being part of  Hakem's divinity.  For example, his wish to marry his sister is with-  out blame or guilt when considered as part of this system, for as Hakem says: Mon amour n'a rien des impuretes terrestres. Ce n'est pas la volupte qui me pousse vers ma soeur, bien qu'elle e^ale en beaute le fantome de mes visions; c'est un attrait indefinissable, une affection^profonde comme la mer, vaste comme le c i e l , et telle que pourrait l'eprouver un dieu. L'idee que ma soeur pourrait s'unir a un homme m'inspire le degout et l'horreur comme un sacrilege: i l y a chez elle quelque chose de celeste que je devine a travers les voiles de la chair. Malgre' le nom dont l a terre la nomme, c'est l'epouse de mon ame divine, l a vierge qui me fut destined des les premiers jours de la creation (p. 363). The doubts of his omnipotence, which Hakem experiences in the beginning, are considered as a part of his earthly struggles, necessary before the realization of his godhood. His death is the liberation required to transcend the limitations of his bodily form. Hakem himself is aware of the restrictions of his human form, as he discovers his sister's betrayal: he wants to display his divine anger, but remains  -75-  silent because of his powerlessness.  The narrator describes Hakem's  frustration: ... dans son courroux, i l eut voulu produire un tremblement de terre, un deluge, une pluie de feu ou un cataclysme quelconque; mais i l se ressouvint que, l i d a une statue d'argile terrestre, i l ne pouvait employer que des mesures humaines (p. 390). The significance of this legend as interpreted by the Druze religious code system is clear:  l i t e r a l l y , Hakem is a man-god who en-  dures a process of doubt and strife before his final spiritual release in death.  However, explained in a more c r i t i c a l fashion, which the  narration also suggests, this story can be read as the description of a megalomaniac. The authenticity of Hakem's vision is discredited by the descriptions' of his irrational behavior.  For example, when he  escapes from the insane asylum, he and the other inmates set f i r e to the city.  Before doing so they k i l l men, women and children, pillage  houses and destroy public buildings.  Hakem tells the populace that he  is punishing them for their wicked ways: "A vous, enfants, cette v i l l e enrichie par l a fraude, par l'usure, par les injustices et l a rapine: a vous ces tresors p i n e ' s , ces richesses volees ... Le feu, le feu partout a cette v i l l e que mon aieul Moezzeldin avait fonde'e sous les auspices de la victoire ..., et qui deviendrait le monument de votre lachete"! En peu d'instants, la flamme avait deVore' les bizars au toit de cedre et les palais aux terrasses sculptees, ... L'incendie et le sac de l a v i l l e durerent trois jours ... (p. 385). Hakem is encouraged by the army of insane men who escaped from  -76-  the asylum with him; they a l l cry: monde.' "  (p. 384).  "C'est Allah qui vient juger le  The validity of Hakem's actions, as well as his  conviction that he is God, is questionable.  It is the chronology of  the narration (Hakem f i r s t thinks he is God while under the influence of a drug and is later convinced that his vision was not a hallucination while in the asylum) which casts doubt on the credibility of the legend.  Hakem himself considers the possibility that he is a victim  of his own illusions, as he listens to his friend Yousouf describe his confused state after taking hashish: J'arrive a croire parfois que tout cela n'etait qu'une illusion de'cette herbe perfide, qui attaque ma raison ... s i bien que je ne sais plus deja" meme distinguer ce qui est reve de ce qui est re'alite'. Le crois-tu? dit Hakem avec inquietude (p. 376). Thus, there are at least two ways of interpreting this legend, both of which are suggested within the narration i t s e l f . images of Hakem which are contradictory:  Nerval offers  one is of a religious figure,  the other of a mad man. There is no definitive representation of Hakem. For example, when he is hailed by the raving inmates as God, the narrator notes that, just as with Christ, i t is the poor i n spirit who are the f i r s t to believe i n the divine word: N'est-ce pas une chose etrange que la parole divine trouve toujours ses premiers fideles parmi les mis Arables? Ainsi mi l i e ans auparavant le Messie voyait son auditoire compose' surtout de gens de mauvaise vie, de peligers et de publicains (p. 382).  -77-  The ambiguity which results from this juxtaposition of codes within the narration is further complicated by the unresolved question of "ce qui est reve et ce qui est re'alite'." This idea i s exemplified by the experiences of Hakem's friend Yousouf. While under the influence of hashish, Yousouf has visions of a celestial being who v i s i t s him in a l l her splendor.  He describes his dream to Hakem:  Moi, j ' a i un reve qui reparait sans cesse, toujours le meme et toujours varie': lorsque je me retire dans ma cange, chancelant sous l a splendeur de mes visions, fermant l a paupiere a ce ruissellement perpetuel d'hyacinthes, d'escarboucles, d'emeraudes, de rubis, qui forment le fond sur lequel le hachich dessine des fantaisies merveilleuses ... , comme au sein de l ' i n f i n i j'apercois une figure celeste, plus belle que toutes les creations des poetes, qui me sourit avec une pehe'trante douceur, et qui descend des cieux pour venir jusqu'a moi. Est-ce un ange, une peri? Je ne^sais, Elle s'assied a mes cotes dans l a barque, dont le bois grossier se change aussitot en nacre de perle et flotte sur une riviere d'argent, poussee par une brise charged de parfums (p..361). This fabulous experience proves to be real, the "figure celeste" is no other than Hakem's sister Setalmulc, who has fallen in love with the fisherman.  She ultimately marries Yousouf, thus realizing a l l his  dreams. The case of Yousouf, who discovers that his hallucinations are predictions of reality, suggests that Hakem's visions could also be real.  By introducing a number of conflicting code systems within the  legend, Nerval demonstrates how various interpretations are possible in a story. dary figure.  Hakem can be seen as a divine messiah or an oriental legenIn a more general sense, this idea i s true for a l l religious  -78-  stories, as each messiah or god can be considered as a true or false one.  The meaning of any legend in determined by the process of deco-  ding used to interpret i t .  Therefore, depending upon the individual's  belief, a story may be secular or sacred.  Either reading is possible  according to Nerval, who carefully constructs the legend of Hakem so that i t can be perceived in both ways. The story of Hakem, which introduces the reader to the various possible significations of a text, prepares the reader to consider the 'Histoire de l a Reine du Matin' in a serious manner and not only as a fairytale.  Hakem's legend is fundamental to the Druze religion:  "1'Histoire de l a Reine du Matin" is the basis of the Masonic order. There is a connection between the two legends in terms of the structure of the Voyage en Orient:  according to Ge'rard, the Druze religion is an  oriental sect of the Masons.  "Au fond, l a religion druze n'est qu'une  sorte de france - maconnerie, pour parler selon les ide"es modernes" p. 298).  As w i l l be seen, i t is the Masonic belief system which fas-  cinates Nerval; for him i t is the spiritual link between the East and West. "La Reine du Matin" The legend "La Reine du Matin," is important to the text because i t clearly contains the code system upon which Nerval constructs his ideal Orient.  The characters i n this legend are symbolic of different  esoteric principles, meaningful within a Masonic context.  In order to  -79-  elucidate the hidden meaning o£ the messages within this story, some of the symbols must be explored according to Masonic lore.^ of this legend i n The Voyage w i l l then be clear.  The place  As with the previous  legend, i t is necessary to f i r s t outline the story: The queen of Sheba travels to Jerusalem i n order to test Solomon's wisdom and admire his works.  From the f i r s t , her contempt for Solomon  is balanced by her admiration for Adoniram. He is the chief engineer and master builder of King Solomon and has rebuilt Jerusalem and constructed the famous temple.  Adoniram's impressive discipline over thou-  sands of workers is a source of uneasiness to Solomon, as are his impious opinions of the Jewish religion.  Thus, when Solomon hears that  three workers are plotting Adoniram's downfall, he refuses to act. The disloyal workmen sabotage the pouring of the molten sea of bronze, Adoniram's greatest project.  The result i s a disastrous explosion.  Alone and dishonoured, Adoniram withdraws into his own working area. There a strange voice calls his name three times and he then sees an apparition who takes him to the centre of the earth, to Enochia, the land of his ancestors. The descent into the underworld i s also a voyage into the past. Adoniram allows himself to be lead through the earth's heart to a world of people living in the inner realms. His mysterious guide, with whom Adoniram feels an affinity, reveals his name as Tubal Cain. Adoniram is taken to the centre of Mount Kaf, Adam's burial place. In Mount Kaf's gallery hang the pictures of seventy emperors who had reigned seventy thousand years before the  -80-  creation of man, when the earth was inhabited by four giant races. Tubal-Cain and his ancestors are descendants of these giant races whose essence is that of f i r e .  These giants displeased God, who  sed them and exiled them from earth. man.  cur-  He then created a second race -  Adoniram learns that he is one of the sons of Tubal-Cain, doomed  to solitude and despair during his earthly existence.  He converses  with the gigantic people in these cavernous realms and studies their art.  Tubal-Cain reveals that Adoniram w i l l beget a new line of Kings,  who w i l l restore the forgotten cult of f i r e . Adoniram returns to earth and, with the knowledge gained i n the underworld, repairs the damage done to the 'molten sea' and is widely acclaimed for his success.  Adoniram tells Balkis, the Queen of Sheba,  that they are brother and sister, both descendants of Tubal-Cain.  They  plan to escape and marry, but before this can happen Adoniram is murdered by three workmen., who try to extract the secret of his art. Leading her caravan out of Jerusalem that night, Balkis (pregnant with Adoniram's child) does not realize that her lover is dead. This version of the Soloman-Sheba-Adoniram myth is significant, both for i t s romantic imagery and its use of Masonic lore.  Adoniram  (or Hiram), for the Mason, is a master builder, a generative power. Through his creative instinct and his labors, he transmutes himself into a more spiritually oriented human being. At the beginning of the tale, Adoniram has already built Solomon's temple and therefore has already completed a certain stage in his  -81-  initiation.  He reveals both his power and his wisdom in controlling  his thousands of workers with the Tau sign. According to Masonic 7  belief, the Tau sign indicates "rectitude in action."  But Adoniram's  power is not complete, as he is a victim of treachery, the implication being that he has not yet learned to control either his own weakness or his creative impulses.  According to Masonic symbolism, the deceit  of the three workers is a reflection of Adoniram's vanity, of his inability to see himself i n proper perspective. Adoniram's descent into the realm of Cain represents a withdrawal from the outside world into his inner self.  It is there that Adoniram  comes i n contact with the divine spark that lives within him. a process of inner discovery, f i r e people.  Through  he learns that he is descended from the  Once in contact with these elements of truth and f i r e ,  he returns to the upper world resurrected.  Now he can create the im-  mortal works that he imagined in his fantasy.  It is only through great  failure and withdrawal (forms of initiation) that Adoniram realizes the transcendental forces within himself. the Masonic credo:  This  process is reflected i n  "Visita interior terrae, rectificandoque, invenies  H  occultum. o Tubal-Cain gives Adoniram a hammer for his work. This instrument, basic to the Masonic cult, represents the tool necessary to achieve one's goal ... to build a temple.  According to the Masons,  the temple stands for the mind, the abode of the spirit or divine essence.  -82-  Adoniram i s murdered for not revealing the secret word which controls his men.  In Masonic terms, the secret word stands for the  creative process, the secret that Masons today are not supposed to disclose.  His death and resurrection (in the son Balkis bears him)  make Adoniram eternal.  The reborn Adoniram is considered omnipresent  in each Masonic initiate, thus the Masons c a l l themselves "Children of the Widow." Adoniram is also presented i n this legend as the archetypal rebel-artist figure.  Solitary and anguished, Adoniram creates and  dreams of monuments of unearthly beauty and stature.  This hero is  the incarnation of a certain romantic figure, the artist who dares to  delve into the dark side of his imagination i n order to invent  forms feared by men and damned by God. Adoniram expresses  his disgust  with conventional art, and describes his ideas about true creation to his slave, Benoni: "Decadence et chute! tu copies l a nature avec froideur, tu t'occupes comme l a mehagbre qui tisse un voile de l i n ; ton esprit hehete' se f a i t tour h tour l'esclave d'une vache, d'un lion ... et ton travail a pour but de rivaliser par 1'imitation avec une gehisse, une lionne, une tigresse?... ces betes font ce que tu executes, et plus encore, car elles transmettent l a vie avec l a forme. Enfant, l'art n'est point la: i l consiste a cre'er .... Souviens-toi des vieux Egyptiens, des artistes hardis et naifs de l'Assyrie. N'ont-ils pas arrache" des flanes de granit ces sphinx, ces .cynocephales, ces divinity's de bdsalte dont 1'aspect reVoltait le Jehovah du vieux Daoud? En revoyant d'age  -83-  en age ces symboles redoutables, on repgtera qu'il exista jadis des gehies audacieux. Ces gens-la songeaient-ils a la forme? l i s s'en raillaient, et forts de leurs inventions, i l s pouvaint crier a c e l u i q u i crea tout: Ces etres de granit, tu ne les devines point et tu n'oserais les animer. Mais le Dieu multiple de l a nature vous a ployes sous le joug: l a matiere vous limite: votre genie degehere'se plonge dans les vulgarite's de l a forme; l'art est perdu" (p. 509. The decadence of modern art reflects the materialistic attitude represented by King Solomon's views and tastes.  Adoniram breaks with  Solomon's conventions i n order to f u l f i l his calling, to create new forms.  Confiding i n Balkis, Adoniram reveals the secrets of his artis-  t i c beginnings, which are also essential elements of his aestheticism: -Mon premier maltre fut l a solitude; dans mes voyages, depuis, j'en a i utilise' les lecons. J'ai tourne^mes regards sur les souvenirs du passe'; j ' a i contemple' les monuments, et j ' ai f u i la societe" des humains (p. 528) Adoniram's contact with nature gave him the essential keys for creation, memory and imagination ... which evoke and nourish dreams. The images seen i n visions and dreams of the past, or recreated by his imagination, inspire the artist to go beyond that which he sees i n nature or i n ancient monuments. For Adoniram, the artist must reconstruct the internal vision composed from external images, thus creating a private universe i n the real world. Adoniram realizes also that the desires of the heart are not  -84-  satisfied i n solitude.  It i s only through his love for Balkis that  Adoniram becomes a complete man.  The union of man with woman libe-  rates the artist from loneliness and permits the ultimate creation, that of his child. Solomon, the conservative figure i n the legend, is opposite i n temperament to Adoniram. A son of the earth, worshipper of Adonai, Solomon i s vain, arrogant and deceitful.  He is determined to have  Balkis as his wife, even i f he must trick her into accepting him. Throughout her v i s i t , Balki exposes Solomon's wisdom to ridicule by showing i t s inherent inconsistencies.  As a type, Solomon exemplifies  the Classicist, opposed to romantic theories of art based on dreams and imagination. For Solomon, form and imitation are essential features of art, consequently he disapproves of Adoniram's theories. explains his position to Balkis while they discuss certain example of ancient architecture i n Lebanon: La renomme'e de ces oeuvres sans nom est venue jusqu'a nous, dit Soliman, pensif: l a , dit-on dans les contre"es maudites, on voit surgir les dehris de l a v i l l e impie submergee par les eaux du deluge, les vertiges de l a criminelle Henochia ... construite par l a gigantesque lignee de Tubal: l a cite" des enfants de Kain. Ana theme sur cet art d'impiefe" et de tenebres! Notre nouveau temple ref lethit les clarte's du s o l e i l ; les lignes en sont simples et pures, et l'ordre, 1'unite' du plan traduisent la droiture de notre f o i jusque dans le style de ces demeures que j ' e l eve & l'Eternel. Telle est notre volontei c'est celle d'Adonai, qui l'a transmise & mon pere (p. 529).  He  -85-  Not only does Solomon disagree with Adoniram's a r t i s t i c ideas, he is also the enemy of Tubal-Cain's race. Solomon abhors the impious rebel giants.  Upholder of Adonai's laws, His role as king is to main-  tain order, as set out in the Ten Commandments. Therefore he resists a l l deviation from custom in both thought and expression.  His charac-  ter and function in this tale are diametrically opposed to those of Adoniram.  This opposition, however, is essential for the growth of  Adoniram.  For i t i s because of Solomon that the architect must strug-  gle against the w i l l of the king and against his status and power over Balkis.  Solomon represents both the obstacle and the glory of Adoniram,  who ultimately defeats the king by winning Balkis' love and  completing  his legendary molten sea. Although the two men differ completely, they both f a l l in love with the same woman, Balkis.  She alone captivates and attracts a l l men.  Proud, regal and beautiful, this queen dazzles everyone who sees her. Benoni, Adoniram's slave, describes his f i r s t impressions of her: Sa beaute' eblouit. Je l ' a i entrevue comme on entrevoit le soleil levant, qui bientot vous brule et vous f a i t baisser l a paupiere. Chacun a son aspect, est tombe" posterne, moi comme les autres (p. 512). Balkis is described as "l'ideale et mystique figure de la deesse Isis" (p. 517).  A Sabean star worshipper, she regulates her l i f e accor-  ding to the movement of the sun and the planet Venus.  Knowledgeable in  astrology, the workings of nature and magic arts, she is a woman-goddess.  -86-  Balkis argues with Solomon, humiliates him, but also seduces him so that he loves her passionately.  Solomon avows his love for her and  his frustration at her disinterest in him: Jamais femme exerca-t-elle un empire plus absolu ... j'etais irrite", vous m'apaisez a votre gr6 ... vous me trompez, je le sens, et je conspire avec vous "a abuser Soliman ..." (p. 593). Although Balkis is impressed by Adoniram, she does not f a l l in love with him, but only remarks to herself, "Voila un homme " (p. 539). It is only later, when Adoniram t e l l s her that they are of the same race, and her magic bird indicates that he is destined to be her husband, that Balkis falls in love with him.  She bows to her destiny and  agrees to go away with Adoniram: II faut bien que je m'incline devant mon maitre, dit Balkis l u i tendant l a main, puisque, d'apres 1'arret du destin, i l n'est pas permis d'accqueillir un autre amour que celui d'Adoniram (p. 575). Balkis embodies both the divine and human woman, she typifies the female ideal desired by a l l men. opaque, hiding her unique features.  Descriptions of Balkis are Therefore she remains mysterious  and beautiful to the listener to the legend, who is free to imagine her according to his own fantasy.  The narrator describes her thus:  Ajoutez aux avantages de l a reine de Saba l a majeste' d'une deesse et les attraits de l a plus enivrante beauts, un p r o f i l d'une purete" oh rayonne un oeil noir comme ceux des gazelles, et s i bien fendu, s i allonge'  -87-  qu'il apparait toujours de face a ceux qu'il perce de ses traits; une bouche incertaine entre le rire et l a volupte", un corps souple et d'une magnificence qui se devine au travers de l a gaze ... (p. 517). The style covers up the features of the woman, rather than revealing them; the adjectives distance the reader from Balkis' human qualities, she is a goddess because we are told only that.  Just as one can guess  the "magnificence" of her body through the gauze, one can imagine her face through the v e i l of language.  For the reader, Balkis is as seduc-  tive as she is for Solomon or Adoniram.  This is because she remains  always hidden, at a distance from realistic description. In this way, she fascinates anyone who tries to imagine what she is really like. Derrida has described this process of attraction which is dependent upon distance: La secluction de l a femme opere a distance, la distance est 1'element de son pouvoir. Mais de ce chant, de ce charme i l faut se tenir a distance, non seulement, comme on pourait le croire, pour se garder contre cette fascination, mais aussi bien pour 1'eprouver. 9 Balkis is the ideal woman because she is so completely absent; her presence is conveyed only through words or ideas. The romantic world created by the language used in this legend is as imaginary as the Queen of Sheba. The fantasy presented, f i l l e d with occult forces, giants and Biblical characters, i s reminiscent of A Thousand and One Nights.  By avoiding realistic descriptions of  -88-  characters, yet painting imaginary landscapes i n detail, Nerval conjures up dreamlike visions, as i n the following passage describing Adoniram's descent into the underworld: l i s pehet-ferent ensemble dans un jardin eclaire" des tendres lueurs d'un feu doux, peupie d'arbres de flamme, projetant, au lieu d'ombre, des clartes plus vives sur le sol d'emeraude, diapre" de fleurs d'une forme bizarre, et de couleurs d'une vivacite' suprenante. Encloses du feu interieur dans le terrain des metaux, ces fleurs en etaient les emanations les plus fluides et les plus pures CP- 556). This type of description i s characteristic of Nerval's style, in which his imagination freely creates visions of a personal oriental fairytale.  The legend has become a vehicle for the artist's ideas of  the perfect hero and heroine, placed in a background equal to them in its extravagance.  As well as depicting his own image of an ideal  Orient, Nerval incorporates several levels of meaning into this story. Consequently, the images which captivate the reader by their ethereal qualities are charged with meaning according to Nerval's particular beliefs.  It is because of this complex nature of Nerval's literary  message that Geoffrey Hartman describes Nerval's style as a ''peristyle", which charms and casts spells over the reader: The 'peristyle' is not simple a style forced to be peripheral or subterranean, and moving with stolen feet of mythic bricolage. It is genuinely, dangerously, the style of the peri: of oriental music,  -89-  when the "fairyway o£ writing" i s taken seriously, and constitutes the "immense" border or indefinite periphery of purer religion. 10 Nerval's style goes beyond the projection of a mythical world and borders on "purer religion" because of the many levels of meaning he incorporates into the text.  Nerval presents a dream world and, like  a l l dreams, i t is completely dominated by symbols. even sounds, have special significance.  Names, colours, and  In 'La Reine du Matin,' the  Masonic symbolic system elevates the story to the status of a spiritual message. Nerval's interest in retelling this legend stems primarily from his knowledge and love of the occult.  His real a f f i l i a t i o n with the  Masonic order i s not completely known. However, the story'La Reine du Matin'shows his awareness of the Masonic code and a personal fascination with the order.  He gives special status to this legend through  its length, and the many careful details included i n the description. During his travels i n the Middle East, Nerval studied aspects of the myth upon which the Masons build their philosophical system.  Faith-  f u l to the Masonic interpretation of the Bible (as related i n Chronicles 11 and Kings 1), Nerval portrays Solomon as a materialistic, lustf u l monarch. He also gives Balkis (the Queen of Sheba) and Adoniram the essential roles i n this legend.  By including this story i n his  novel, Nerval i s able to express the esoteric and spiritual fascination i t holds for him.  Moreover, he propounds a certain system or philoso-  phy (the Masonic code) i n which secret and magical forces are basic  -90-  concepts. For the Mason, this story i s not only a legend telling of the origins of his order, i t reveals higher truths about the workings of the universe. Secret signs used by the Mason are believed to reflect cosmic mysteries and truths.  For example, the sign of TAU, which  Adoniram uses to control his workers, represents the powerful geometric organization of the universe. The creation of significant images and the retelling of Adoniram's l i f e and death serve as a religious technique for the Mason i n his efforts to reach a higher unity (or God). deploys the legend*La Reine du Matin' i n much the same way:  Nerval  the arrange-  ment of significant images within the story i s a technique which reveals his own belief system.  Although Nerval expresses himself s k i l f u l l y and  entertains his reader, his account of the legend i s also significant for its underlying conceptual framework. His use of language creates an imaginary time and space which f u l f i l his aesthetic desires, and are symbolic of his personal, spiritual and occult ideas. Barthes describes the process of concealing meaning within language as essential to l i t e rature : ... l a premiere condition de l a litte"rature, c'est paradoxalement, d'accomplir un langage indirect: nommer en detail les choses afin de ne pas nommer leur sens dernier et tenir cependant sans cesse ce sens menacant, designer le monde comme un repertoire de signes dont on ne dit pas ce qu'ils signifient ... d'etre indirect, pour un langage, c'est de se referer le plus constamment possible aux objects et non a leurs concepts: car le sens de • 1'object tremble toujours, non celui du concept.  -91-  The "langage indirect" which Barthes speaks of i s the symbolic language which gives the work a multiplicity of meaning. The legend 'La Reine du Matin'is a literary sign i n which the signifiers refer to a complex system of signifieds.  Interpretation, therefore, may be on  different levels, depending on the reader's knowledge of the Nervalian code.  However, because the story i s an aesthetic creation which en-  genders meaning, the reader i s free to apply his own code system and thereby perceive the images given i n a personal manner.  Consequently,  the Orient described i n this legend can become the private fantasy of the reader, just as the image of Balkis can become like Setalmulc, the (male) reader's vision of an ideal woman - the sister ("ame twin soul) who is desired but unattainable.  soeur" or  -92-  Notes to Chapter Four: 1.  Rend Girard,  Deceit, Desire and the Novel: Self and 0ther i n Literary Structure, trans. Yvonne Freccero (Baltimore.: John Hopkins Univ. Press, 1961), p. 34.  2.  Bettina Knapp,  'The Kaliph Hakim and History as a Cyclical Happening', Nineteenth Century French Studies, Vol.5 (1976-77), p. 80.  3.  Andre Niel,  L 'Analyse structurale des textes: Littetature, presse;publicite*. (Paris: Mame, 1973), p. 46.  4.  ibid.,  p. 101.  5.  ibid.,  p. 105.  6.  Information about Masonic symbolism i s taken from: Bettina Knapp, 'Ge'rard de Nerval: The Queen of Sheba and the O c c u l t N i n e t e e n t h Century French Studies Vol.4 (1935), pp. 244-257, and William L. Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry (New York: Bell. 1980).  7  %  7.  William L. Wilmshurst,  The Meaning of Masonry, p. 80.  8.  'Visit the inner earth and by making corrections you shall find what i s hidden.'  9.  Jacques Derrida,  Spurs/Eperons: les styles de Nietzsche. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 48.  10.  Geoffrey Hartman, 'Nerval's Peristyle' Nineteenth Century French Studies, Vol.5 (1976-77), p. 7b.  11.  Roland Barthes,  Essais critiques  L  (Paris:  Seuil, 1964), p. 232.  -93Chapter Five Conclusion:  "En Orient tout devient conte"  (p. 557)  Nerval carefully constructs his Voyage en Orient to resemble a genuine record of a journey.  He gives the account a sense of  having been experienced not only by the precision of his documentation but also i n the rhythm of the narration. Gerard repeats sever a l times that he likes to travel without a plan, to be guided by the adventures or accidents he encounters: peu du hasard" (p. 31).  "J'aime a dependre un  The narration appears to follow faith-  f u l l y the capricious wanderings of the narrator, "Je prends le parti de te mander au hasard tout ce qui m'arrive" (p. 31).  The main cha-  racter travels freely about the Orient and the r e a l i s t i c text also has the appearance of roving.  By renouncing the "ressources immenses  des combinaisons dramatiques ou romanesques" (p. 267) and the great literary models in order to reproduce the discontinuity and chance happenings i n the experience of the traveller, the narrator hopes to describe the Orient as he actually perceived i t .  Ge'rard insists  on the authenticity of his account: Ce que j ' a i ecrit, je l ' a i vu, je l ' a i senti. A i - je eu tort de rapporter ainsi nalvement mille incidents minutieux, de'daigne's d'ordinaire dans les voyages pittoresques ou scientifiques? (p. 624). This declaration is important as an attempt to direct the reader to read the text as a real diary, but i t i s false. narrated by Ge'rard are completely f i c t i t i o u s .  Numerous episodes A great part of  -94-  Nerval's information i s borrowed from other sources.  The expe-  riences which he attributes to Ge'rard and other characters, as well as the ethnographical material (marriage, slaves, religion) are second-hand.  1  Although Nerval did journey to the Orient, there was  a long interval of about ten years between his voyage and the f i n a l writing of the Voyage en Orient. The time between his experience and his composing of the novel provided distance between Nerval and his past adventures; i t also permitted him to objectify his hero. Irony is the clearest indication of this dissociation between Gerard and Nerval. Nerval uses irony continually throughout his work to give comic relief to many episodes.  Ge'rard i s not only the  sincere traveler, but at times the naive one.  For example, while  Gerard i s i n Egypt he watches some exotic Egyptian dancers. he is excited by their movement, costumes and beauty.  At f i r s t  However, he  eventually realizes that the dancers are menr Et maintenant voici les almges qui nous apparaissent dans un nuage de poussiere,de fumee, de tabac. Elles me frapperent au premier abord par l'etlat des calottes d'or qui surmontaient leur chevelure tressde. Leurs talons qui frappaient le sol, pendant que les bras leves en repetaient l a rude secousse, faisaient resonner des clochettes et des anneaux; les hanches fremissaient d'un mouvement voluptueux; la t a i l l e apparaissait nue sous l a mousseline dans l'intervalle de l a veste et de l a riche ceinture relachee et tombant tres bas, comme le ceston de Venus. A peine, au milieu du tournoiement rapide, pouvait-on distinguer les traits de ces se'duisantes personnes, dont les doigts agitaient de petites cymboles, grandes comme des castagnettes, et qui se demenaient vaillamment aux sons primitifs de l a flute et du tambourin. II y en avait deux fort  -95-  belles, a l a mine fibre, aux yeux arabes avivbs par le 'cohel', aux joues pleines et dedicates legbrement fardees; mais l a troisieme, i l faut bien le dire, trahissait un sexe moins tendre avec une barbe de huit jours: de sorte qu'a bien examiner les choses, et quand, l a danse etant finie, i l me fut possible de distinguer mieux les traits des deux autres,je ne tardai pas a me convaincre que nous n'avions affaire lk qu'a des almees ... males. 0 vie orientale, voila. de tes surprises! et moi, j ' a l l a i s m'enflammer imprudemment pour ces etres douteux ... (p. 138, 9). This example i s typical of Gerard's anticipation followed by disappointment.  Throughout his journey he repeatedly projects mean-  ing into a sign or situation which ultimately proves to have an entirely different significance. Ge'rard's seach for love is often tinged with a mundane desire for an amorous conquest.  The mystic unions of Polyphile, of Hakem or  Adoniram encourage Ge'rard to dream of an ideal marriage with the Druze princess:  but there are numerous other situations in which he attempts  flirtations of a less serious nature, and these inevitably result i n Ge'rard being reduced to the level of a comic seducer.  He  continually  calls himself a 'Don Juan' or 'Casanova', both roles he never succeeds in perfecting.  In Vienna he f a l l s i n love with a young woman and does  his best to seduce her, a l l the while declaring undying passion and devotion.  But when she finally invites him into her house, he dis-  covers that she is married with three children, and quickly loses interest :  -96-  Est-ce a vous, ces enfants? - Oui. - Diable! II y en a trois, blonds comme des epis, blonds comme elle. J'ai trouvevcela s i respectable, qui je ne suis pas revenu encore dans l a maison (p. 48). It i s through his ironic treatment of the hero and the Orient that Nerval can contemplate the East at a distance and can objectify his own fantasies about exotic promises.  However, he can also rein-  corporate his own desires and dreams into the hero's quest, and t e l l stories which f u l f i l those dreams of adventure not actually found i n the  Orient. The basic structure of the novel i s consistent:  Gerard projects  an ideal of the Orient based on literary images or a r t i s t i c ideals, he discovers an oriental reality and finally he listens to the legends which create a new fantasy universe.  This pattern repeats i t s e l f con-  tinuously and the text reflects a triangular tension throughout. The movement from imagination to reality i s illustrated at the beginning of the Voyage.  Ge'rard excitedly observes Mont Blanc i n a l l  its splendor, but soon realizes that he is only admiring the clouds. The real Mont Blanc i s a disappointment: Ce sont bien les hautes Alpes que l'on decouvre de tous cotes "a 1'horizon. Mais oh est le mont Blanc? me dis-je le premier soir; j'ai suivi les bords du lac, j'ai fait le tour des remparts, n'osant demander "a. personne: Ou est done le mont Blanc? Et j'ai f i n i par 1'admirer sous l a forme d'un immense nuage blanc et rouge, qui realisait le reve de mon imagination. Malheureusement, pendant que je calculais en moi-meme les dangers que pouvait presenter le projet d'aller planter tout en haut un drapeau tricplore, pendant  -97-  qu'il me semblait voir circuler des ours noirs sur l a neige immaculee de sa cime, voila que ma montagne a manque' de base tout 'a coup; quant au veritable mont Blanc, tu comprendras qu'ensuite i l m'ait cause' peu d'impression (pp. 12-13). By placing his hero i n contact with reality, Nerval constantly demystifies his exotic dreams and substitutes the 'facts' which are mediocre when compared to the fantasy.  At the beginning of his stay  in Cairo, Ge'rard perceives the city as i f i t were a place from A Thousand and One Nights.,  The atmosphere surrounding the veiled women,  the marriage festival and the promise of initiation a l l seem to lead towards his goal.  The end of 'Les Femmes du Caire' depicts the tra-  veller conscious of the real situation and no longer deluded by hopeful projections.  His desire to unveil the mysteries of Isis is decei-  ving and the charms of Egypt dissolve l i t t l e by l i t t l e .  When he final-  ly leaves Egypt i t seems to Ge'rard that i t is a dead country, ruined by time and racial divisons.  This example is repeated again and  again as Gerard's subjective projections cannot withstand the tests of experience. Nerval wrote a letter to his friend Theophile Gautier indicating his own disenchantement with the Orient.  "Moi, j ' a i d£ja perdu,  royaume <i royaume, et province "a province, l a plus belle moitie' de A.  l'univers, et bientot je ne vais plus savoir ou refugier mes Nerval  2  reves."  consciously incorporates this disappointment into the  narrative structure of the text, making Ge'rard express the same sentiment. However, instead of describing simply the loss of a dream,  -98-  Nerval gives this experience a positive aspect.  He confines the fan-  tasies to their proper place, the imagination, and he shows how disappointed traveller discovers reality.  the  Demystification occurs i n  a l l the countries the author describes and a l l Gerard's experiences are reduced to daily banality. The narrative structure which is repeated throughout the whole text shows the protagonist being woken from his dream or expectations into reality, to discover that human relations function badly and the ideal of an exotic refuge is a chimera. The story of Zeynab, Gerard's slave g i r l , may be read as an "anti-marriage".  At the beginning she is perceived as mysterious, a  source of mystical eastern knowledge. But she, like the Egyptian woman's v e i l , eventually symbolizes rupture of any possible union. Zeynab remains untouchable and hidden behind her difference. The magic word "tayeb" - the open sesame of communication with Zeynab and others - is replaced by the curse "mafishch" - the sign of mistrust and division.  The obstacle of languages i n the East, the social inequalities,  the ethnic and religious dissidences, a l l create suspicion and misunderstanding within that society and alienate Ge'rard from any real communication with the Orient. The narrative mechanism demystifies the fantasy of unity with the unknown other and substitutes the singularity of distinct beings seen i n their true unicity.  Ge'rard, continually rejected and forced  into a position as outsider, adopts a new role, that of observer. The narration eliminates the fantasies of an ideal union i n order to  -99-  establish, between Gerard and others, a normal subject-object rapport. By becoming a sort of ethnologist, Ge'rard regains a certain consciousness of himself and no longer tries to disguise himself as an Oriental. He becomes an orientalist, and he readopts the European vision, which regards the East as the 'others" world.  He observes the various customs  (slavery, the harem, domestic l i f e ) and instead of falling back on his fantasies, he gathers valuable documentary material.  Even marriage and  religion, at f i r s t objects of desire and projection, are put back into the literary imagery which f i r s t inspired him to look for them. Condemned to be outside, Ge'rard becomes the spectator of events rather than trying to join i n or interfere with them. Nerval carefully constructs his work i n a way which depicts the projections of his hero's presumptuous imagination and then upsets these mental structures by describing the Orient as an external and ontological reality.  However, there is also the third movement within the novel,  that of projecting the Orient onto a higher form of aesthetic creation. The author transforms the mundane East into a personal poetic myth through the legends and stories found i n the text. In the _Voyage. Nerval creates his own oriental universe, a sign which both describes his own restructured vision and engenders meaning and dreams for the reader.  The referent of the signified of this new  sign is once again imaginary, but whereas Ge'rard's mental representation of the Orient is i n i t i a l l y based on previous historical and l i t e rary works, the new referent is the artistic creation produced by  -100-  Nerval himself. Nerval's friend Gautier also recreated the lost exoticism of the Orient, i n an opera.  Nerval wrote to Gautier praising him, saying that  i t was this imaginary sign which appealed to him and remained his sacred idea of the real Orient: Je retrouverai "a 1'Opera le Caire veritable, l'Egypte immacule'e, et qui t'a souri d'un rayon de ses yeux divins. Heureux poete, tu as commence" par r-ealiser ton Egypte avec des feuilles et des livres; aujourd'hui la peinture, la musique, l a choreographie s'empressent d'arreter au vol tout ce que tu as reve" d'elle; les genies de 1'Orient n'ont jamais eu plus de pouvoir. L'oeuvre des pharaons, des califes et des soudans, disparait presque entierement sous le poudre du Khani ou sous le marteau d'une c i v i l i s a t i o n prosa'ique; mais sous tes regards, 6 magicien! son fant6me anime" se releve et se reproduit avec des palais, des jardins presque re'els, et des peris presque ideales'. Mais c'est "a cette Egypte-la- que je crois et non pas 1'autre. 3 1  The two new literary signs that Nerval creates for the Orient are the stories 'la Reine du Matin' and 'L'Historie du Calife Hakem', both fabulous adventures depicting mythical lands and characters. The legend of Adoniram, telling the story of Solomon and the building of the temple of Jerusalem, is i n the b i b l i c a l tradition.  However, Nerval  substitutes for the Bible story a heterodox version, borrowing from Islamic sources and the Masons, as well as incorporating numerous esoteric speculations.  He creates a subterranean population who are  hostile to the Holy Laws. These are the creators of art and the masters of f i r e .  They have great occult powers and consider the God of  -101-  the Jews to be only a genie among others. In this story there i s no unique God, and Truth i s hidden, not to be found i n the Bible nor i n Jerusalem, but i n another paradise more oriental than the Orient. The other legend, 'Histoire du Calife Hakem', takes place i n Cairo and is based on the Druze religious tradition.  The hero Hakem  is a rebel and visionary, who considers himself to be a god.  He ela-  borates a new doctrine and begins a new cult, the Druze faith.  Like  the subterranean people found i n the other story, Hakem believes himself to be divine and defies the idea of a single God. In the same way that Adoniram wishes to marry his sister, Hakem prepares to consummate an incestuous marriage i n order to perpetuate the purity of his race.  The confusion and struggle which results from Hakem's visions  end i n his death and the birth of a new religion. These stories are literary signifiers or aesthetic objects, which convey as signifieds the ideal and magical universe of Nerval's imagination.  They also engender numerous levels of interpretation.  Barthes  describes this multiplicity of meaning as being the intrinsic quality of symbolic language: La langue symbolique "a laquelle appartiennent les oeuvres litteraires est par structure une langue plurielle, dont le code est fait de telle sorte que toute parole (toute oeuvre), par l u i engendre'e, a des sens multiples. 4 Nerval creates this fantasy world by means of an eclectic combination of codes including magic incarnations, Islamic folklore, astrology, cabalistic signs and masonic mythology.  These various code  -102-  systems produce an atmosphere of enchantment, like the imaginary cities from A Thousand and One Nights.  The author transports his reader out-  side reality into the world of legendary beings.  The various codes not  only produce the feeling of an exotic Orient, which i s i t s e l f a message, but also reveal Nerval's own interests, knowledge and ideals.  Pierre  Guiraud i n La Semiologie notes that this combination of codes permits the sign to be open to interpretation.  In our decoding of the text i t  is essential to be aware of the number and choices of codes used by the author: Dans l a pratique, nombreux sont les sysfemes oti un signifiant peut re"ferer 'a plusieurs signifies et oti ehaque signifie' peut s'exprimer au moyen de plusieurs signifiants. C'est le cas des codes poetiques dans lesquels l a convention est faible, l a fonction iconique developpe'e et le signe ouvert. En ce qui conceme le langage articule" ou l a polysemie est la- ffegle geWrale, i l semble que l a situation tienne au fait qu'on a moins affaire "a un code qu'*a un agregat de codes superpose's et imbriqu'es. Sans doute n'y a - t - i l pas des codes polysemiques mais des sysfemes d'expression qui recourent simultanement a plusieurs codes. Quoi qu'il en soit, i l en resulte une possibility" de choix qui est geheratrice du style. Dans l a mesure ou l'efnetteur dispose de plusieurs possibilites: pour formuler son message, son choix devient significatif. 5 Nerval's fantasy universe i s a mythical one, veiled i n mystery by the esoteric code systems he uses.  In this way he keeps his text  at a seductive distance from the reader. However, as with a l l occult systems and hermetic texts, the keys to understanding are available  -103-  through initiation and knowledge of the secret societies and hidden codes.  For example, the story of Adoniram changes from a fantasy to a  religious myth, when interpreted within the Masonic system. In his stories Nerval postulates the possibility of a higher spiritual reality.  He constructs an elaborate mental structure which  is apparently based upon "Truth", as both stories are religious. However, the Truth, or promise, remains concealed and unknown, veiled by layers of occult codes.  Even i f the codes could be known and the  hidden message revealed, the experience would remain intellectual. hidden truths can only become part of the reader's imagination: become transcendental ideas, inaccessible and enticing.  The  they  In this way  Nerval's aesthetic signs become inspirations for the reader to travel to the East i n order to experience the promised truths concealed withi n the sign. The possibility of finding the oriental truths, an idea encouraged by literature and other sources, is what motivated the hero of the Voyage en.Orient  to begin his journey.  We have seen that Gerard's  imagination projected an exotic Orient around him, but i t was one he could not find.  Throughout the narration there is a tension between  dream and reality, but just as the two legends suggest a higher reality, Gerard continues to hope and search for the Orient he desires. perience with the Druze princess suggests that i f circumstances permitted, his ideal would have been realized.  His exhad  Nerval too reflects  this idea of oriental thruths s t i l l being possible, i n a letter he  -104-  wrote to his friend Jules Janin: En somme, 1'Orient n'approche pas de ce reVe eveille' que j'en avais fait i l y a deux ans, ou bien c'est que cet Orient-la est encore plus loin ou plus haut. 6 An episode at the end of Ge'rard's adventures provides an image for this possibility.  Ge'rard receives the gift of a precious stone,  but he is unable to see beyond i t s rough surface. his  It is only when  friend breaks open the stone that Ge'rard can see i t s true beauty: Satisfait d'avoir vu, dans Istamboul meme, les trente nuits du Ramazan, je profitai du retour de l a lune de Schewal pour dormer conge' du local que l'on m'avait loue' a Ildiz-Khan. L'un des Persans, qui m'avait pris en amitie', et qui m'appelait toujours le Myrza (lettreO , voulut me faire un cadeau au moment de mon depart. II me f i t descendre dans un caveau plein,^a ce qu'il disait, de pierreries. Je crus que c'e'tait le tresor d'Aboulcasem; mais l a cave ne renfermait que des pierres et des cailloux fort ordinaires. "Venez, me d i t - i l , i l y a l a des escarboucles, fa des amethystes, la des grenats, l a des turquoises, l a encore des opales: choisissez quelqu'une de ces pierres que je puisse vous offrir". Cet homme me semblait un fou; "a tout hasard, je choisis les opales. II prit une hache, et fendit en deux une pierre blanche grosse comme un pave\ L'eclat des opales renferme^es dans ce calcaire m'ehlouit aussitSt. "Prenez", me d i t - i l en m'offrant un des fragments du pave" (p. 623). The stones, which at f i r s t seemed useless and ugly, proved to be  precious gems. This story suggests that i f Gerard had a guide or had been able to,marry his princess, then the secrets of the Orient would  -105have been revealed. Voyage en Orient is a complex text which weaves together numerous messages, none of which are definitive statements about the Middle East. It illustrates Eco's description of art as being a "super-system of 7 homologous structural relationships". Thus art seems to be a way of interconnecting messages i n order to produce a text i n which: (a) many messages, on different levels and planes of the discourse, are 'ambiguously' organized: (b) these ambiguities are not realized at random but follow a precise design; (c) both the normal and the ambiguous devices/ within a given message exert a contextual pressure/or both ..... on both the normal and ambiguous divices within a l l the others; (d) the way i n which the norms of a given system are offended by one message i s the same as that i n which the norms of other systems are offended by the various messages that permit. 8  In Nerval's novel the various messages urge the reader to make an interpretative effort and incite him toward the discovery of multiple images of the Orient. The planes of expression and content create an ambiguous impression, as they alter according to the messages Nerval communicates.  The reader must attempt to understand the author's  messages and faithfully interpret the text.  The ambiguity of the  messages, especially i n the complex legends told i n the work, allow the reader to f i l l out the text with his own codes or interpretations. Thus he can imagine the marvelous oriental universe projected by Nerval, through his own imagination. Eco defines the aesthetic text as being a form of "communicative interplay" i n which the reader collaborates with the author to interpret  -106-  the text. Thus the aesthetic text becomes a multiple source of unpredictable 'speech acts' whose real author remains undetermined, sometimes being the sender of the message, at others the addressee who collaborates i n i t s development. 9 Through his collaboration with the author, the reader  absorbs  the images from the text and transforms them into a personal vision. In the case of the Voyage, Nerval's Orient can become the reader's own exotic land of promise.  At the end of his travels Ge'rard notes:  ... j e regagne le pays du froid et des orages, et deja 1'Orient n'est plus pour moi qu'un de ces reVes du matin auxquels viennent bienttk succe'der les ennuis du jour (p. 624). Ge'rard goes f u l l circle from imagining the Orient, to discovering the real East, to once again fantasizing an ideal land. The reader too follows this pattern and the image of the Orient which remains i s the one created through the stories and legends.  The promise of hidden  truths, beauty and exotic customs predominates because ding process:  of the deco-  the reader's personal connotative system allows him  to imagine his own Oriental ideal. In this work Nerval achieves the symbiosis between dream and experience.  Consistently, he unites his love of illusion and his  demand for clarity, his fascination with and criticism of the ideal. At the centre of his discourse Nerval conveys the projection and love of the mysterious as well as mundane everyday events, by combining  -107-  the effects of both introspection and documentation. By recreating his model Orient through his stories he is able to perpetuate his ideal. The reader participates i n the process of decoding this ideal image and helps to create i t as well.  In the end Gerard's quest becomes the  reader's dream, and the literary sign Nerval created may serve as the inspiration for our own "Voyage en Orient": our own search for the ideal Other and spiritual home.  Japan, 1983  -108-  Footnotes for Chapter Five 1.  The footnotes i n the Pldiade edition of Gerard de Nerval, Oeuvres, II (1961) give detailed descriptions of Nerval's sources (pp. 1258-  TT35). 2.  Nerval to Thebphile Gautier, Oeuvres I  3.  ibid.  4.  Barthes, Essais critiques  5.  Pierre Guiraud,  (op. c i t ) , p. 945.  p. 53.  La Semiologie  (Paris:  Presses Universitaires  de France, 1971), p. 35. 6.  Nerval to Jules Janin, Oeuvres I, p. 953.  7.  Umberto Eco,  A Theory of Semiotics  Press, 1967), p. 271. 8.  ibid.  9.  ibid.,  p. 276.  (London:  Indiana University  -109Bibliography General and Theoretical  Adam, Jean-Michel. Linguistique et discours litteraire: thec-rie et pratique des textes. Paris: Librairie Larousse, 1976. Albouy, Pierre. Mythes et mythologies dans l a litterature franchise. Paris: Librairie Armand Colin, 1969. Barthes, Roland.  Mythologies.  Barthes, Roland.  Essais critiques.  Barthes, Roland. Colin Smith. Barthes, Roland.  Paris:  Seuil, 1957.  Paris:  Seuil, 1964.  Elements of Semiology. Trans. Annette Lavers and London: Jonathan Cape., 1967. S/Z. Paris:  Seuil, 1970.  Barthes, Roland. L'Empire des signes. Albert Skira, 1970.  Geneve: Editions d'Art  Barthes, Roland. Le Degre' zero de l'ecriture: Essais critiques. Paris: Seuil, 1973.  suivi de Nouveaux  Barthes, Roland.  Seuil, 1973.  Le P l a i s i r du texte. Paris:  Barthes, Roland. 'Introduction a 1'analyse structurale des rgcits' in Poetique du recit, Paris: Seuil, 1977. Bloom, Harold. New York:  The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. Oxford University Press, 1973.  Booth, C. Wayne. A Rhetoric of Irony. Chicago Press, 1974. Butor, Michel. Minuit, 1974.  Repertoire IV.  Paris:  Chicago:  University of  Collection Critique,  Culler, Jonathan. Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics. and the study of Literature. New York: Cornell University Press, 1975. Derrida, Jacques. Spurs/Eperons: ^Les Styles de Nietzsche. University of Chicago Press, 1979.  Chicago:  -110-  General and Theoretical - continued  de Man, Paul. 'Structure intentionnelle de 1'image romantique', Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 51 (1960), 68-84. Eco, Umberto. A Theory of Semiotics. Press, 1967. Fass, Barbara. Romanticism.  London: Indiana University  La Belle Dame sans Merci and the Aesthetics of Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1974.  Genette, Ge'rard.  Figures II: Essais. Paris:  Genette, Ge'rard.  Figures III. Paris:  Seuil, 1969.  Seuil, 1969.  Girard, Rene'. Deceit, Desire and the Novel: Self and Other i n Literary Structure. Trans. Yvonne Freccero. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1961. Jakobson, Roman. Essais de l.inguistique gene'rale. Ruwet. Paris: Editions cle Minuit, 1963. Lajeune, Philippe.  Le Pacte autobiographique.  Lentricchia, Frank. After the New Criticism. of Chicago Press, 1980,  Trans.  Paris: Chicago:  Nicolas  Seuil, 1975. University  Martino Pierre. L'Orient dans l a littdrature francaise au XVII et au XVIII siecles. Paris: Hachette, 1906. *  e  e  Niel, Andre'. L'Analyse structurale des textes: presse, publicite'. Paris: Mame, 1973. Pettit, Philip. Los Angeles. Poulet, Georges.  Litte'rature,  The Concept of Structuralism: A C r i t i c a l Analysis. University of California Press, 1975. Les Metamorphoses du cercle.  Paris:  Praz, Mario. The Romantic Agony. New York: Press, 1970.  Plon, 1961.  Oxford University  Prendergast, Christopher. 'Flaubert: Writing and'Negativity', Vol. 8, No. 3 (Spring 1975), 197-213.  NOVEL  -Ill-  General and Theoretical - continued Raoul, Valerie. The French Fictional Journal: Fictional Narcissism/ Narcissistic Fiction. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980. Richard, Jean-Pierre. Said, Edward W.  Microlectures. Paris:  Orientalism. New York:  Said, Edward W. Beginnings: Books Inc., 1975.  Editions du Seuil, 1979. Pantheon Books, 1978.  Intention and Method. New York:  Schaff, Adam. Langage et connaissance. Paris: Editions Anthropos, 1969. Shukman, Ann. Literature and Semiotics. Pub. Co., 1977.  Trans.  Basic  Claire Brendel.  New York:  North Holland  Thalmann, Marianne. The Literary Sign Language of German Romanticism. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1972. Wahl, Francois. 'La Philosophic entre l'avant et l'apres du structuralisme', in Qu'est-ce que le Structuralisme. Paris: 1968. Wilmshurst, William L.  The Meaning of Masonry. New York:  Seuil,  Bell, 1980.  On Nerval Bailde, Joseph-Marc. Nerval.  Paris:  Presence Litte'raire,  Bordas, 1976.  Chambers, Ross. Ge'rard de Nerval et la poetique du voyage. Jose^ Corti, 1965":  Paris:  Dubruch, Alfred. Ge'rard de Nerval and the German Heritage. The Hague: Mouton, 1965. Hartman, Geoffrey. 'Nerval's Peristyles', Nineteenth Century French French Studies, Vol. 5 (Fall-Winter 1976-77), 71-78. Jean, Raymond.  Nerval par lui-meme. Paris:  Seuil, 1964.  Jeanneret, Michel. La Lettre perdue'r Ecriture et folie dans l'oeuvre de Nerval. Paris: Flammarion, 1978. Jones, Robert Emmet. Ge'rard de Nerval. New York:  Twayne, 1974.  -112-  On Nerval - continued Knapp, Bettina. 'Ge'rard de Nerval: The Queen of Sheba and the Occult', Nineteenth Century French Studies, Vol. 4 (1975-76), 244-257. Knapp, Bettina. 'The Kaliph Hakem and History as a Cyclical Happening , Nineteenth Century French Studies, Vol. 5 (1976-77), 79-93. 1  Marie, Aristide. Gerard de Nerval: Le Poete, l'homme. Paris: Hachette, 1914. Richard, Jean-Pierre. 'Geographic magique de Nerval', i n Po£sie et Profondeur, Paris: Seuil, 1955, 15-89. Richer, Jean. Ge'rard de Nerval et les doctrines esote'riques. Paris: Griffon d'Or, 1947. Richer, Jean.  Ge'rard de Nerval. Paris:  Hachette, 1963.  Richer, Jean.  Ge'rard de Nerval. Paris:  Pierre Seghers, 1965.  Schaeffer, Gerald. Le Voyage en Orient de Nerval: Etude des Structures. Neuchatel: l a Baconniere, 1967. Scharer, Kurt. The'matique de Nerval ou le monde recompose'. Minard, 1968.  Paris:  


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