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Dimensions of Vautrin 1974

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DIMENSIONS OF VAUTRIN by PENELOPE ANGELA HOLMES SHAW B.A., CARLETON UNIVERSITY, 1971 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n the Department of FRENCH We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA MAY, 1974 i In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y avai- l a b l e , for referance and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his represen- tative? I t i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Abstract This thesis i s concerned with the early s t i r r i n g s of Vautrin i n Balzac's consciousness, his sources both l i t e r a r y and h i s t o r i c a l and the shaping of these early beginnings into the mesmeric figure as we know him today. Our aim w i l l be to present a coherent and succinct view of the dominating forces which the master n o v e l i s t has interwoven i n his charac- ter. The f i r s t chapter traces the dominant l i t e r a r y trends relevant to Vautrin'sscreation. Mood and personality of the character as well as t h e i r meaning i n the context of romantic l i t e r a t u r e are explored. An important question i s whether Vautrin has a prototype. Answers to t h i s question precede discussion of the extent to which Vautrin i s Balzac's creation.. u Upon establishing Vautrin's sources i n l i t e r a t u r e , we next consider his h i s t o r i c a l and contemporary roots. Thus, an attempt i s made to look beyond l i t e r a r y influences to :• people and events which influenced Balzac's perception of his world and, therefore, the development of his character. The extent to which Balzac found his l i t e r a r y i n s p i r a t i o n i n the people and the events of contemporary society, and the extent to which he related these observations to previous l i t e r a r y trends w i l l be weighed. Turning from a factual study to a l i t e r a r y one, we take a loqkat the dominating forces i n Vautrin himself. The f i r s t concern of Chapter Two w i l l be to evaluate the impact of these forces i n the character on the reader. Balzac t r i e d to evoke a p a r t i c u l a r aura around Vautrin and a study of the authorss presentation of h i s charac- ter i s designed to provide clues as to his success. We w i l l also look at Balzac's method of developing an aura surround- ing Vautrin, his past and present sources of wealth and pres- tige, among the underwold. Consideration of Vautrin's power, his own awareness of i t and how he uses i t w i l l be a central ? focal point i n t h i s chapter. With the discovery of Vautrin's essence, we s h a l l see how i t complements and even motivates his dominating passion. Thus the t h i r d chapter, being the p i v o t a l one i n t h i s study, attempts not only to depict the reasons behind his determin- ation to revolt and the result s thereof, but i s largely concerned with l i n k i n g the character to h i s creator, l i t e r a l - l y and philosophically. I t i s deemed especially important to convey that Vautrin i s we l l able to stand on his own con- v i c t i o n s , though the evident p a r a l l e l s with Balzac's own s o c i a l consciousness are openly discussed. ©ur fourth chapter focuses on a chink i n Vautrin's otherwise impervious facade: his overwhelming need of love. Pa r t l y because of i t s revolutionary s p i r i t , p a r t l y i n spite of i t , Vautrin's need for love i s not s a t i s f i e d i n convention- a l terms. The ambiguity of the love he feels for Theodore C a l v i , Eugene de Rastignac and then Lucien de Rubempre', absorbs our interest i n t h i s chapter. Most important however, i s the view of t h i s need for love i n l i g h t of his own down- f a l l as a figure of r e v o l t . To what extent did Balzac pre- d i c t i t ? Could Vautrin have succeeded i f he had been cap- able of a more conventional love? The human side of t h i s c a l c u l a t i n g figure i s revealed to us through these questions. Our f i n a l chapter turns i t s focus back to the author. In his use of realism and allegory, Balzac adds a greater d i - mension to t h i s already powerful figure. Our a b i l i t y to participate as a c t i v e l y as we do i n the characterization i s s seen i n terms of Balzac's mastery of these two l i t e r a r y for- mulae. i v ACKNOWLEDGEMENT In preparing t h i s thesis the d i r e c t i o n of Dr. David J. Niederauer has been most h e l p f u l . Professor Niederauer's enthusiasm and encouragement through a l l stages of my work have been most appreciated. I would also l i k e to thank Dr. Edward Matte for his reading of the manuscript and his many helpful suggestions. While study of Balzac alone i s bound to have i t s rewards, the supervision of Dr.s. Niederauer and Matte has been p a r t i c u l a r l y conducive to heightening the pleasures and reducing the pains of l i t e r a r y inquiry. Lovingly dedicated to Dod, Mum, Oho and Paul. -v- TABLE OF CONTENTS Page T i t l e Page i i Abstract i i Acknowledgements i v Table of Contents :... v i Chapter One: I: Is Vautrin An Innovation? - Introduction 1 - Romantic Roots 1 - Physical and Metaphysical 2 - Character Types 4 I I . Vautrin 1s H i s t o r i c a l Roots - Vidocq 11 - Coignard 12 - Conclusion 15 Chapter Two: Mystery and Power - Introduction 16 - Mysterious Vautrin 16 - Powerful Vautrin 21 •? The Physiognomy of Vautrin .... 29 - Satanic Soul 33 - Conclusion 39 Chapter Three: S p i r i t of Revolt - Introduction . * 40 - Balzac the A n t i - S o c i a l i s t 41 - Vautrin the Anarchist 49 •s Balzac and Vautrin 56 - Vautrin the Anti-Hero 58 - Conclusion 65 Chapter Four: Paternal or Homosexual? - Introduction 66 - Warnings by Balzac Exemplified by Vautrin 66 - v i - TABLE OF CONTENTS - CONT'D Page Chapter Four: Cont'd - Vautrin 1s Duality ........... 71 - The Unmaking of Vautrin 81 - Conclusion 84 Chapter Five: The Master's Touch - Introduction 86 •? Balzac's Use of Realism 86 - Balzac and Symbolism 101 - Conclusion 105 Chapter Six: Concluding Notes 107 Bibliography 117 Appendix 124 - v i i CHAPTER ONE: I: IS VAUTRIK AN INNOVATION? Introduction Vautrin i s not a mere creation of Balzac's imagin- ation. L i t e r a r y models inspired him as did l i v i n g ones and he was p a r t i c u l a r l y influenced by the trends i n eighteenth- century l i t e r a t u r e . These included the gothic novel t y p i c a l - l y shrouded i n mystery and te r r o r as well as exhibiting a taste for rebellious natures. A b r i e f survey of such promi- nent writers as Lord Byron, Goethe and S c h i l l e r and t h e i r e v i l creations w i l l indicate some of Vautrin's most obvious phys- i c a l and s p i r i t u a l sources. The aforementioned creators of that v i o l e n t type from which Vautrin was to spring were, i n turn inspired by the romans noirs of Horace Walpole, Ann R a d c l i f f e , Lewis and Charles Maturin. These novels of black l i t e r a t u r e combined revolutionaries, gloomy settings and tales of horror. Ghosts, bloody nuns and damsels i n distress became the indispen- sable features surrounding the romantic bandit. A closer look at the t r a d i t i o n a l physique of the heroes and an over- view of the various types of popular rebels w i l l i l l u s t r a t e Balzac's debt to the romantic movement. Romantic Roots One need only read Le Pere Goriot and Splendeurs et -2- miseres des courtisanes to be impressed by a s t r i k i n g f i g - ure endowed with great strength and an uncomfortably pierc- ing eye. Comparison with his romantic predecessors, t h e i r emanations of e v i l power, t h e i r herculean strength and the scowls that darken and furrow t h e i r faces, reveals a close s i m i l a r i t y of external features andddistinguishing moods i n Balzac's Vautrin. Physical and Metaphysical The physical aspect of the heroes i n Romantic l i t e r - ature i s c a r e f u l l y developed to evoke the metaphysical: predominantly fear and uneasiness. The e a r l i e s t example of t h i s development i s found i n Ann Radcliffe's Schedoni. This s t r i k i n g figure of The I t a l i a n or The Confessional of the Black Penitent,(1797), i s described as being t a l l , and: •" ...as he stalked along, wrapt i n the black garments of his order, there was something t e r r i b l e i n the a i r ; something almost super- human.'?.! His cowl, too, as i t threw a shade over the l i v i d paleness of his face, encreas- ing i t s severe character, and gave i t an effect to his large, melancholy eye, which approached to horror... an habitual gloom and severity prevailed over the deep li n e s of his counte- nance; and his eyes were so piercing that they seemed to penetrate, at a single glance, into the hearts of men, and to read their'most secret thoughts; few persons could support t h e i r scrutiny, or even endure to meet them twice." 1. Such arresting features, p a r t i c u l a r l y the expression of the eye, are evident i n Balzac's description of Vautrin. Fur- 1. Mario Praz, The Romantic Agony (New York:Meridian,1956),p.59. -3- thermore, Byron's creation of Conrad and the Giaour i s de- rived from Ann Radcliffe's work and both characters show a di r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p to Schedoni i n physical c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Byron's heroes arid Schedoni share the same powerful gaze i n s t i l l e d with a s i n i s t e r power, also a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of Vautrin. Byron says of Conrad: " There breathe but few whose aspect might defy The f u l l encounter of his searching eye; He had the s k i l l , when Cunning's gaze would seek To probe the heart and watch his changing cheek, • • • • There was a laughing d e v i l i n his sneer, 2 That raised emotions both of rage and fear." The giaour, i n his monk's habit, mirrors Schedoni: " Dark and unearthly i s the scowl That glares beneath his dusky cowl. • • • • Oft w i l l h i s glance the gazer rue, For i n i t lurks that nameless s p e l l , Which speaks, i t s e l f unspeakable." 3. Ann Ra d c l i f f e then, i s at the roots of the l i t e r a r y fad of mixing romanticism, mysticism and pseudo-science i n physio- gnomy. I t was she who created the hero who was to haunt l i t e r a t u r e for a long time: handsome, gloomy, proud, with mysterious and terrible.passions darkly suggested by his piercing, black eyes. Byron, Scott, Lewis and Maturin under- went Radcliffe's influence as, through them, as w e l l as d i r - e c t l y , so did Balzac. Not only i n physique and mood i s Vautrin's debt to the Romantic l i t e r a r y movement v i s i b l e , but also i n the various types of rebels and heroes that dom- "2. Lord Byron, The Works Of Lord Byron (London:John Murray,1904), Vol.3, 234-235: 3. Ibid., p.125. -4- inated l i t e r a t u r e . Character Types The philosophy behind t h i s new breed of v i l l a i n o u s rebel i s best expressed by the following: 11 Ces miserables brigands, l'objet du degout et de l'horreur des nations, en aeviendront les a r b i t r e s et les e"chafauds se changeront en autels. Dieu a revetu d'une mission p a r t i c u l i ^ r e ces hommes de sang et de terreur qui usent, qui brisent les ressorts de l ' e t a t s o c i a l pour l e recommencer." 4. Their mission then, i s to tear down the old, making way for a new society based on greater equality. From the mere phys- i c a l a t t r i b u t e s , l e t us turn to study the d i f f e r e n t strains of rebels who chose t h i s passive or active destruction as t h e i r mission. For example, active revolt characterizes the rebel, the s o c i a l m i s f i t and the h e r o - v i l l a i n , while the melancholic m i s f i t finds solace i n escape from the p a i n f u l r e a l i t i e s of society. The character Conrad, from The Corsair,(1814), l i e s i n the second category and best exemplifies Byron's rebel. Conrad, the leader of a band of p i r a t e s , has d e l i b e r a t e l y chosen e v i l . Depicted as bloody i n crime and v i c e , shunned and feared, alone and mysterious, he i s an e n t i r e l y s i n i s t e r and overpowering figure. He valued the fear which he i n s p i r - ed above everything except his love for Medora, upon whose 4. Honore" de Balzac, Histoire des Treize tome x i i i , preface, pp. 7-8. death: 11 He l e f t a Corsair's name to other times, ^ Linked with one v i r t u e and a thousand crimes." * This man of destiny, to a c e r t a i n degree at the cross-roads and disenchanted with l i f e , faces either active revolt against society or a hyper-sensitive p a s s i v i t y . Conrad chooses the former i n opposition to the quiet desperation of Byron's other famous rebel, Manfred. Vautrin too, having weighed the advantages of active and passive r e v o l t , as witnessed i n Le Pere Goriot, chooses the path of anarchy, crime and v i c e . The s o c i a l m i s f i t i s best exemplified by Karl Moor, the leader of S c h i l l e r ' s Me Rauber,(1781),,Moor i s a fusion of the influence of Rousseau; the idea that natural man, kind and harmless, can be changed by society into a vicious c r i m i n a l . Moor i s presented as the i d e a l youth i n search of l i b e r t y and at war with tyranny, yet imbued with the tender feelings of love and melancholy. Never able to control the disorder of his w i l l and his actions, his e x i s t - ence i s marred by murder and i n j u s t i c e . By his defiance of God and man, he destroys the world of j u s t i c e and morality which he so much wanted to save, and for which reason he became an avenger of a l l violence and i n j u s t i c e . In compar- ison with Vautrin, Balzac barely dwells on the l a t t e r ' s o r i g i n a l ..innocence. However, one can c e r t a i n l y see i n him 5. Ibid., p.296. Moor's tender feelings of love and his harsh defiance of God, j u s t i c e and morality. Vautrin, however, i s stronger i n pur- pose than Moor and i s not beset by the same c o n f l i c t s of w i l l and action. In addition to the type of rebel who cannot content himself to l i v e conventionally i n a society which refuses to recognize h i s i n d i v i d u a l i t y , there i s the type who, instead of r i s i n g i n open revolt against society,,prefers to with- draw from i t and lead a l i f e tormented by a deep melancholy and f i l l e d with sighs of ennui. Characters of t h i s type are the dreamers as opposed to men of action. They either commit suicide or end t h e i r days i n a t y p i c a l l y romantic, exotic country, where they f e e l akin to nature, away from the corrupting influences of c i v i l i z a t i o n . Two such rebels i n - f l i c t e d with the mal du s i e c l e are Werther and Rene. Certain- l y Vautrin exhibited s i m i l a r dreams of escape to i d e a l i s t i c plantations i n America as revealed i n Le Pere Goriot. As w e l l as active rebels and melancholic m i s f i t s , the Romantic movement also produced epic heroes i n an epic l i t e r - ature preoccupied with the theme of revolt and of man and his destiny. The greatest of these i s Milton's Satan, whom M Mario Praz ascribes as the source for Conrad, Giaour and Karl Moor. Satan i s a being, proud of his r e b e l l i o n , who, even though defeated, refuses to repent. R.J.Z. Werblowsky sees Satan i n part: -7- " ...as rebel against a rather passive God's immutable decrees,(he) becomes the symbol of the power-carrier who strains every muscle, f i b r e and nerve against a supreme and unrelenting and ipso facto cold and h o s t i l e f a t e . " 6. Praz also draws a p a r a l l e l between the physical features of Milton's "Fallen Angel" and the l a t e r Romantic rebels. Satan personifies the sadness, death, d i a b o l i c a l charm and s i n i s t e r a i r of the ''sublime c r i m i n a l " who was to appear at the end of the eighteenth century. Alongside theRomantic rebel and the melancholic hero then, there existed the h e r o - v i l l a i n . He appears as the epitome of a l l that i s e v i l and i s i n s t i l l e d with an eerie, supernatural power. The q u a l i t i e s which comprise i n part the Romantic rebel also apply to the v i l l a i n of the gothic nove1: " ...mysterious(but conjectured to be exalted) o r i g i n , traces of burnt-out passions, suspicion of ghastly g u i l t , melancholy habits, pale face, unforgettable eyes." 7. Satan, Vautrin and, as we s h a l l see, Melmoth and Ferragus share the v i l l a i n o u s q u a l i t i e s mentioned above. Melmoth i s a s t r i k i n g example of the Gothic hero- v i l l a i n . The nature of t h i s type i s two-fold; he i s a power- f u l being, capable of exercising great s e l f - c o n t r o l and i s a marked cr i m i n a l . Although his character i s presented larger than l i f e , i t s negative side i s accentuated i n order for 6. Zwi Werblowsky, Lucifer and Prometheus (London:Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.,1952;, p.79. 7. Praz, Op. cit.,p.59. -8- the reader to sense f u l l y the atmosphere of impending doom so necessary to the Gothic t a l e . He i s a symbol of moral r e b e l l i o n i n an orthodox society, 11 ...whose e v i l i s the r e s u l t of a clash between his passionate nature and powerful i n d i v i d u a l w i l l and the unnatural r e s t r a i n t s of convention, orthodoxy or t r a d i t i o n . " 8 . Indeed, a s i m i l a r clash with p a r a l l e l r e s u l t s i s v i s i b l e i n Vautrin, though an atmosphere of doom i s not an i n t e g r a l part of Balzacas novels. The character of the h e r o - v i l l a i n who was to emerge, af t e r much painful t r i a l and error, i n Vautrin, was preceded, i n Balzac's own writings, by Ferragus. In 1833, while keeping within the l i m i t s of the roman noir l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n , Bal- zac created, i n his Histoire des Treize, Ferragus. He created a secret society of adventurers and nobles, " ...tpus f a t a l i s t e s , gens de coeur, et de poe'sie, mais ennuye's de l a v i e plate q u ' i l s menaient, entraings vers de jouissances asiatiques." 9. a society, " ...contre laquelle l'ordre s o c i a l s e r a i t sans de"fense,£ quijrenverserait les obstacles, foudroierait les volontes et donnerait a -,Q chacun d?eux le pouvoir diabolique de tous." In t h i s early work, one can already discern the h o s t i l i t y towards society that was to mark Vautrin. Like Ferragus, 8. Charles Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer (Lincoln, Nebraska:Bison, 1961),P.x. 9, Balzac, Treize tome x i i i , preface pp. 7,8. 10. I b i d . , pp.7,8. -9- Vautrin was a former convict who headed "Les Grands Fanandels" and "La Societe des D i x - M i l l e " , " .. .un monde a. part dans l e monde, h o s t i l e au monde, n'en reconnaissant aucune l o i , ne se soumettant qu'a. l a conscience de sa necessite et n'obiissant qu'a un deVouement." 11. Balzac was learning to synthesize the Romantic influence with his own c r e a t i v i t y : the l i t e r a r y precedent had been set and one t h i r d of Vautrin 1s make-up determined. The rest of him was to be drawn from Balzac's creative genius and the re a l world where Balzac could exercise his talents i n a bare- l y explored area: the underworld. 11. Ibid., pp.7,8. -10- CHAPTER ONE: I I . VAUTRIN *S HISTORICAL ROOTS Continuing our pursuit of Vautrin's sources, we now turn to prominent people whose l i v e s or physique bear a strong resemblance to Vautrin's. Two contemporaries of Balzac's who could have served as models for his character are Francois Vidocq and Pierre Coignard. Both were con- victed v i l l a i n s who turned t h e i r knowledge of the criminal world to the benefit of society and rose to fame i n the police force. A comparison of l i f e patterns and physical appearances with Vautrin's w i l l show how much Balzac owed his i n s p i r a t i o n to them. The conclusive proof that Balzac did use r e a l l i f e models i s i n a l e t t e r to Hippolyte C a s t i l l e , dated October 11, 1846. In i t , Balzac alluded to his creation of Vautrin: " Ce personnage qui repre'sente l a corruption, le bagne, le mal s o c i a l dans, toute son horreur, n'a r i e n de gigantesque. Je puis vous assurer que le module existe, q u ' i l est d'une epouvantable grandeur et q u ' i l a trouve' sa place dans le monde de notre temps. Cet homme e t a i t tout ce qu'e'tait Vautrin, moins l a passion que je l u i a i pretee. II e t a i t l e g£nie du mal, u t i l i s e ' d ' a i l l e u r s . " 12. From Francois Vidocq then, the elusive and by now legendary convict who became police commissioner and who published his Me'moires i n 1827, Balzac borrowed the bodily t r a i t s and some occurences.. 12. Albert P r i o u l t , Balzac avant 'La Comedie humaine' (Paris: C o u r v i l l e , 1936),p.365. -11- Vidocq In his l i f e pattern, for example, one can detect manyr t s i m i l a r i t i e s to Vautrin 1s. Vidocq was born at Arras i n 1775. He stole money from his father and ran away from home, hoping to go to America. He took to the roads i n France, however, and for several years t r a v e l l e d with a circus He joined, then deserted, the French army. He was condemned by army courts for forgery and sent to Brest on an eighteen- year sentence of forced labour. Stubborn and phy s i c a l l y stron he escaped threeeor fmir times, only to be recaptured and put into irons. In 1809, he offered his services to Baron Pasquier i n the police department. Vidocq f e l t that as he had personal knowledge of the criminal way of l i f e , he could' be invaluable i n tracking down criminals. The proposition appealed to Pasquier who recognized genius i n Vidocq, and he agreed to the plan, on condition that Vidocq spend two years t r a i n i n g with the force to teach the jargon of the criminal world. Vidocq became chief of the 'police de l a surete'. In 1827-1828 he helped produce his Mjmoires. A b r i e f outline of Vautrin's l i f e and criminal record follows, p a r a l l e l i n g that of Vidocq and l a t e r , Coignard. Vautrin was born Jacques C o l l i n i n 1779, and was brought up by his aunt, Jacqueline C o l l i n , who had him educated by the Fathers of the Oratory. After his education was completed, she put him to work i n a bank, where he was charged with a -12- forgery committed by his f r i e n d , Franchessini. He escaped from prison while serving the five-year term and went to Paris as Vautrin. From 1815-1820, he stayed at the 'Pension Vauquer', where he was arrested by Bibi-Lupin. Sent to Rochefort, Vautrin l o s t l i t t l e time i n making h i s escape and went to Spain. In Spain, he k i l l e d the Abbe Carlos Herrera, took on his i d e n t i t y , and returned to Paris. Later, i n his role of Vautrin, he became assistant to Bibi-Lupin, and i n 1830, he succeeded him as the head of the 'police de l a surest!', a position which he held u n t i l 1845. As V/idocq expressed the romantic theme of the rebel and the criminal re-established i n the world of society, so does Vautrin represent the same theme i n Balzac's world of the 'Comedie humaine8. Both are men who began i n opposition to the law and worked against i t and who f i n a l l y became recon- c i l e d with the law and worked for i t , using t h e i r experiences to help law conquer the very malevolence which they once personified. However, though the Me'moires of Vidocq caused somewhat of a sensation i n 1828-1829, he was not the only con- v i c t who had become police chief. Pierre Coignard's adven- tures were quite s i m i l a r , as we s h a l l see. Coignard Coignard, born i n Toulon i n 1785, was imprisoned for robbery and, a f t e r his escape, went to Spain where he took the name of Count Saint-Helene. After f i g h t i n g i n the Span- -13- i s h army, he joined the French army i n which he rose to Major. He was decorated with the Cross of Saint Louis and the Legion of Honour i n 1815, and was named commander of the Paris pol- i c e . He was betrayed by one of his former prison mates and sent to prison i n Toulon where he died. Resemblances i n l i f e patterns are very strong between the two Frenchmen and Vautrin. I t i s possible to recognize t h e i r common bod- i l y t r a i t s that incorporate and develop some of the prom- inent features of Vautrin's l i t e r a r y predecessors. The eyes, the b u i l d and the s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s i n p a r t i c u l a r are as evident i n Radcliffe's heroes as they are i n Vidocq, Coignard and Vautrin. Le'on Gozlan described Vidocq as he appeared i n 1844 as: " ...un homme a figure bovine, large au front, b e s t i a l e du bas, solide, inquietant, d'un caractere etrange. cheveux autrefois rouges assurement, aujourd hui g r i s d'hiver. Ensemble;complexe, rustique et s u b t i l , d'une expression peu f a c i l e a d e f i n i r , d'un mot, d'un t r a i t , du premier coup; et calme cependant, mais calme a l a mani&re redoutable des sphinx egyptiens." 13. Gozlan continued his description by drawing attention to Vidocq's massive chest and his hand- f e l i n e , yet authori- t a t i v e , preventing Gozlan from getting a f u l l view of his face. He seemed to express an a i r of power and a strong w i l l i n his whole being. S i m i l a r i t i e s spring to mind at the introduction of Vautrin i n Le P&re Goriot where Balzac presents him to us 13. Jules Bertaut, 'Le P£re Goriot' de Balzac (Paris:SF'ELT, 1947), p.132. -14- as a man of about for t y years old, with: 11 ...les gpaules larges, l e buste bien developpe, les muscles apparentes, des mains 'epaisses, carres et fortement marquees aux phalanges par des bouquets de p o i l s touffus et d'un roux ardent. Sa figure, rayle par des rides pre'mature'es, off r a i t des signes de duret^ qui de'mentaient ses mani^res souples et l i a n t e s . " 14. The most s t r i k i n g feature of Vautrin are his eyes. He gave a fe e l i n g of resolution and imparted an unesy sensation i n a glance that seemed to,penetrate the inner being of whom- soever he beheld. He was not to be crossed, no matter how pleasant or f r i e n d l y he appeared to be. He made i t his business to know the a f f a i r s of everyone around him, although no one knew anything about his personal l i f e . Thus i t has been noted that physical s i m i l a r i t i e s i n both l i t e r a r y and his h i s t o r i c a l figures abound, as do p a r a l l e l s i n l i f e patterns. Nevertheless, neither Vidocq nor Coignard, during t h e i r l i f e as outlaws, considered themselves rebels against soc- i e t y as a whole and, even less were they the grandiose incar- nation of revolt that Vautrin was i n ' La Come^die humaine. In part, these dimensions of Vautrin probably stem from Did- erots's Le Neveu de Rameau, a work read and admired by Balzac, i n which a bohemian states: " Dans l a nature, toutes les esp&ces se devorent, toutes les conditions se deVorent dans l a socie'te'."15. 14. Honore de Balzac, Le P£re Goriot (Paris:Garnier-Flammarion,1966), p.36. (Henceforth, unless otherwise indicated, t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l be used and i d e n t i f i e d as Goriot.) 15. Pierre Citron, Goriot, preface,p.16. -15- Vautrin voices the same sentiment by drawing a p a r a l l e l be- tween Paris and a v i r g i n forest i n which savages f i g h t one another; he declares that only strength matters i n society, that morality i s a f a l s e front, and wealth rules supreme: " S i je reussis, personne ne me demandera: 'Qui es-tu? 1 Je* serai Monsieur Quatre-millions." Gonelusion This chapter reveals the surprising number of element brought together i n the creation of Vautrin. From his roman- t i c youth, Balzac retained a p r e d i l e c t i o n for poetic heroes, for the exceptional men presaged by S c h i l l e r and Byron. He combined these influences with a fascination with the under- world and an a b i l i t y to record what he witnessed around him. The dominating t r a i t s of the resultant figure, Vautrin, are examined i n the following chapters. Some underline Balzac's debt to his predecessors and to his era, and some i l l u s t a t e Vautrin's power to lead Balzac's pen by a powerful person- a l i t y a l l his own. He i s , above a l l , "!'incarnation de cet i n s t i n c t de puissance,""^* and he acts as a powerful force unifying the Comldie humaine. 16. Goriot, p.112. 17. MuiTeT Ferguson, La Volonte' dans 'La Comedie humaine' (Pari Georges Coueville, 1935),p.159. -16- CHAPTER TWO: MYSTERY AND POWER Introduction Vautrin 1s mysterious and powerful impact on the read- er, the means Balzac used toaeheive t h i s , and his techniques to heighten Vautrin's mystery and power are well worthy of analysis. Vautrin's physiognomy i s also discussed i n ref- erence to these two c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . F i n a l l y , the appro- priateness of the frequent satanic epithets and adjectives applied to Vautrin are explored as well as t h e i r sources i n Vautrin,s mysterious and powerful character. Mysterious Vautrin In Balzac's l i t e r a r y scheme, most characters have a dominant t r a i t , a p a r t i c u l a r mania around which i s woven a f a i r l y simple background to set off and sometimes exaggerate the t r a i t . Vautrin's complex nature arises from the wealth of subordinate elements which are placed around himu:to j u s t i f y and support his governing passions. To support an ambition- driven r e b e l l i o n against society then, Vautrin consciously develops c e r t a i n facets of his character. Among these i s a sense of mystery and power. As with other aspects of Vautrin's personality, those showing him as a mysterious and powerful man can, for the most part, be traced back through Balzac's own work and -17- personality to t h e i r sources i n l i t e r a t u r e and i n l i f e . Hence Vautrin appears as an immense amalgamation of ideas and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s gathered here and there throughout a l l of Balzac's experience of l i t e r a t u r e and of the world. How- ever, before examining these influences more cl o s e l y , l e t us b r i e f l y place Vautrin i n the perspective of the Cornedie humaine, to attempt to explain Balzac's preoccupation with t h i s ind ividua1. Balzac's o f f i c i a l reason for w r i t i n g about a crim- i n a l was that he was obliged to i n order to present a com.pl plete fresco of his society. Nevertheless, there appear to be more profound reasons. Gozlan, for instance, t e l l s us that Balzac had a great taste for the mysterious workings of the police and the underworld: " Cette re've'lation f a i t e par Balzac d'un eVenement qui a r r i v a en p a r t i e , v i n t m'apprendre, pour,la premiere f o i s , confirmee depuis par tant d'autres, son gout excessif pour les ne'gociations secretes, pour les expeditions conduites sinueusement dans 1'ombre, les projets arranges de l o i n , enfin, ses penchants dominants d'ar t i s t e pour les a f f a i r e s de police et les machinations de tout genre qu'emploie c e l l e - c i , par ne^cessite, dans le but de parvenir a l a decouverte des voleurs et des criminels."1, Vautrin not only completes a t o t a l panorama of French soc- i e t y i n the nineteenth century, but he also i s an extension 1. Leon Gozlan, Balzac intime ( P a r i s : L i b r a i r i e ilustre'e, n.d.), p.278. -18- of a p a r t i c u l a r preoccupation of the author. Hence the im- portance of the position he assumes within the criminal world of La Come'die humaine. Balzac's great interest i n the psych- ology of outlaws i s r e a l i z e d i n t h i s chapter through a study of mystery and power, that distinguishes the underworld e l i t e . Balzac's excessive taste for the secret machinations i n his characters has been noted not only by L6on Gozlan and Ferna'nd Roux, but Curtius too has amplified t h i s "pre'occu- 2 pation du mystere" *, both i n connection with Balzac's per- sonal l i f e and i n his w o r k s s u r Vautrin lui-meme, une des plus puissantes creations, de Balzac, pese un sombre mystere, qui d i r i g e toute sa v i e . " * Some of the methods by which Balzac c u l t i v a t e d and accentuated the mysterious side of his protagonist can be traced back to the early Romantic writers and include use of r e s t r a i n t i n discussing his char- acters and t h e i r motivations, ambiguity of in t e r p r e t a t i o n , and f i n a l l y , concealment of pertinent information, The authors of the late eighteenth century often com- pl e t e l y v e i l e d , or allowed only b r i e f glimpses, of the ante- cedents or early l i f e of t h e i r heroes. Consequently, the r. . . J . motives behind t h e i r actions and thoughts were l e f t unexpl- ained and aroused one's c u r i o s i t y . Speaking of the period of the Empire and of the Restoration, Barde*che says: 2. Ernst Curtius, Balzac (Paris: Grasset, 1933),p. 32. 3. Ibid., p. 32. -19- 11 Les romans de cette £poque sont des romans sans exposition, reposant sur un Element , d 1 i n t r i g u e e s s e n t i e l : le mystere du passe." * And so with Balzac's presentation of Vautrin, about whom we are t o l d but l i t t l e , and that i n snatches only. This res- t r a i n t was calculated to heighten c e r t a i n aspects of the character and to keep the reader's imagination f e r t i l e and a l i v e with conjectures. C o l l i n ' s parents and early l i f e are almost completely obscure, yet we know, by the end of the Vautrin t r i l o g y , that he was an i l l e g i t i m e t e c h i l d . As we have seen, C o l l i n ' s history i s not given a l l i n a piece, but i s doled out over the whole length of his adventures. That he too, l i k e the Romantic heroes, had an unfortunate experience i n love, i s hinted i n Le Plre Goriot, while d e t a i l s concerning his ed- ucation and upbringing are reserved for the f i n a l chapters of Splendeuyss et miseres des courtisanes^ This r e s t r a i n t i n exposing the l i f e of the protagonist i s one of the primary techniques the author usessin building a sense of mystery. Ambiguity i s another key factor i n Balzaei'is character exposure. I t i s sprinkled l i b e r a l l y throughout with d e t a i l s being conveyed by inference alone. Balzac's use of the un- named and un-namable element suspended just out of the read- er's sight i s also extensive i n the Vautrin cycle, and serves much the same purpose of enhancing the " t a l l , dark, stranger" 4. Maurice Bardeche, Balzac romancier (Paris:Plon, 1967),p.36. -20- mystique. Balzac reserves the R a d c l i f f i a n technique of simply not giving information for use i n connection with Vautrin's criminal a c t i v i t i e s . These l a t t e r are alluded to with alarm- ing abundance, crimes both committed and projected, but the author's method of imprecise suggestion and even concealment, supplies a whole mythical aura of the darkest evil.deeds around the character and further heightens his mysterious- ness. F i n a l l y , there i s of course the mystery over which, i n Curtius' words, Balzac has thrown the splendid mantle of art."'* Though the unforewarned reader may misinterpret or simply miss t h i s part of Vautrin, attentive reading of the three novels shows Balzac's mantle to be of "diaphanous s t u f f " . Further discussion of Vautrin's ambiguous amorous leanings i s reserved for Chapter Four, though i t i s pertinent to c i t e t h i s as an example of r e s t r a i n t and inference which increases our interest i n the character. An atmosphere of mystery i s thus produced by omitting the kind of formal biography found i n La Cousine Bette. Exam- inatio n of the complete cycle however, shows that the person- a l h i s tory i s adequate, that i t i s of a nature to j u s t i f y s a t i s f a c t o r i l y Vautrin's actions, and that Balzac succeeds 5. See Curtius, p. 159. -21- i n combining realism with mystery i n his handling of Vautrin's biography. Having examined from an external point of view some of the author's more successful means of character develop- ment i n the Vautrin t r i l o g y , l e t us turn to consider features within Vautrin that also convey a sense of mystery and power. What int e r a c t i o n can be discerned between the two elements? Is Vautrin a more arresting figure as a re s u l t of t h i s com- bination? In order to answer these questions, we must d i s - cover how conscious Vautrin was of his a b i l i t y to convey mystery and powet'.rand how he used his mastery of them to intimidate and confuse his challengers. Powerful Vautrin I t i s Paul Verni&re who names the desire for power as Vautrin's chief motivating force. Though Balzac nowhere refers to his character as a ge*nie i n t h i s sense, Vautrin does say i n I l l u s i o n s perdues that he l i k e s power for power's sake^'and i t i s true that power forms an essential t o o l or means i n his desire for revenge. Verni£re says: " Comme Maxime de T r a i l l e s , comme Madame de Maufrigneuse, comme du T i l l e t , comme Rastignac, defiant l a s o c i i t e des hauteurs du P^re-Lachaise, Vautrin est, avant tout, pour Balzac, 1'incarnation de cet i n s t i n c t de puissance qui donne l a c l e f et qui forme 6. Honors' de Balzac, I l l u s i o n s perdues (Paris:Gamier-Flammarion, 1966),p.598. (Henceforth, t h i s edit ion w i l l be quoted.) -22- 1'unite re'elle de La Comedie humaine. z N'allons pas cr o i r e que Balzac^a pour seule intention de peindre l a societe de son temps. Cette societe, i l veut avant tout l a dominer, comme romancier, comme dandy, comme grand homme. Et jamais i l n'a mieux su l a fu s t i g e r que par sa creation de Vautrin."7 Vautrin then dominates the criminal world and the society i n which he moves through his power, for better, for worse, for good and for e v i l . So P r i o u l t says that Vautrin: " ...presente ce t r a i t bien caracteristique des hlros balzaciens q u ' i l organise non seulement sa propre existence, mais encore c e l l e de son entourage, en vue des f i n s q u ' i l poursuit; i l impose aux autres sa volonte rudement l o r s q u ' i l s'agit de bandits dont i l est le maitre incon- teste, avec plus de di s c r e t i o n , mais non moins de tenacite, pour ce qui est de Lucien de Rubempre" pu de Esther van Gobseck."8 Clearly, Vautrin i s f u l l y conscious-of his intimidating powers and i s ready to use them to manipulate others. In pa r t i c u l a r , he has a subtle genius for persuasion born of personal magnetism, By drawing people to him, or even by repulsing them, his superior power i s evident.(For example,see i n f r a p.77, the description of his f i r s t meeting with Lucien.) His a b i l i t y to do so i s a di r e c t r e s u l t of his knowledge of two prominent s c i e n t i s t s of his era: Lavater and Mesmer. Among s c i e n t i f i c writers who influenced Balzac's ideas were Nacquart, G a l l and Lavater. Doctor Nacquart's 7. Paul Verniere, "Balzac et l a genese de Vautrin." Revue d'histoire l i t t e ' r a i r e , (janvier-mars,1948),pp.67-68. 8. P r i o u l t , p. 102. -23- Traite sur l a nouvelle physiologie du cerveau ou Exposition de l a doctrine du docteur G a l l sur les structures et les fonctions de cet organe appeared i n 1808. Nacquart claimed that " l a physiologie du cerveau est l a vraie philosophie de l'homme." * He reduced psychology to physiology and placed man i n the hands of a s c i e n t i f i c determinism by t r y i n g to give the s o c i a l sciences the same precision that character- izes the physical sciences. The o r i g i n a l thesis of Doctor G a l l , upon which Nacquart expounded was phrenology, a science which claimed that the brain could be mapped into zones, and that the formation of the s k u l l would indicate the character and the temperament of the i n d i v i d u a l . Doctor Lavater's contribution to the science of the time was physiognomy,, a new science whose basic p r i n c i p l e was that a person's charac- ter and even his destiy, could be read from his physical features. Balzac's fascination with these 'findings' i s evident i n the careful physical descriptions that he gives of his characters, as he introduces them, i n an attempt to reveal t h e i r psychology. Along with the importance of the environment of the i n d i v i d u a l , the idea that man i s psycho- l o g i c a l l y what he i s p h y s i c a l l y — - t h a t i s , man)s inner s e l f i s revealed by hi?s exterior appearance-- forms one of the p r i n c i p a l doctrines i n the formation of La Comgciie humaine. 9. Bernard Guyon, La Pensee p o l i t i q u e et sociale de Balzac (Paris: Colin,1967),p.42. ~ -24- Vautrin's use of Lavater's theories i s witnessed i n words such as the following: "Vous £tes f i l l e , vous resterez f i l l e , vous mourrez f i l l e ; car malgre les seduisantes theories des eleveurs des b£tes, on ne peut devenir ici-bas que ce qu'on est...1'homme aux bosses a raison. Vous avez l a bosse de 1*amour."10 At least a part of C o l l i n ' s s k i l l i n handling people then, his a b i l i t y to "read thoughts", and his rapid evalu- ation of character must be attributed to his knowledge of Lavater. Vautrin has as thorough an acquaintance with Lava- ter as Balzac does himself and he makes ample use of t h i s knowledge each time he assumes a new disguise. One of the main problems i n studying the character, i n f a c t , i s the d i s t i n c t i o n which must be made between C o l l i n as Vautrin, C o l l i n as Herrera and C o l l i n as C o l l i n . I t should be remem- bered that Vautrin's rather vulgar conduct i n the Vauquer boarding house, along with his wig and dyed sideburns, i s part of his disguise as a r e t i r e d businessman. C o l l i n i s revealed only through the conversations with Rastignac, and even then, he remains concealed behind t h i s disguise, since he never t e l l s the young Rastignac who he i s . He i s glimpsed again at the moment of his unmasking, when he becomes en- raged and as suddenly, seizes control of himself again. One would l i k e to think that the of f e r to send the boarders 10. Honor£ de Balzac, Splendeurs et miseres des courtisanes(Par Gamier-Flammarion,1968),p.112. (Henceforth, t h i s e d i t i o n w i l l be quoted as Splendeurs.) -25- some f i g s from Provence i s part of C o l l i n rather than Vautrin, but one cannot be sure. The same s k i l l f u l use of physio- gnomy and the a r t of disguise i s apparent with the i n t r o - duction of Carlos Herrera, at the end of I l l u s i o n s perdues. As long as he wishes, C o l l i n ressembles a p r i e s t . Yet, i t i s not long before Lucien feels that something i s amiss because of the contrast between Carlos' bearing, and the ideas which he expresses. This should not. be interpreted as a lack of s k i l l on C o l l i n ' s part, but rather as a sign that he thinks he has found the instrument he wants i n the person of Lucien de Rubemprl. I f t h i s i s so, there i s no further need to mention the disguise, and i t i s , i n f a c t , quickly discarded as far as Lucien i s concerned. And so we see that, whereas Balzac, i n his role of commentator, usually reser- ves for himself the r i g h t to discuss the theories of Lavater and G a l l , i n the case of Vautrin," he shares t h i s r i g h t with a character i n order to i l l u s t r a t e the source of one of Vautrin's most powerful weapons: a penetrating knowledge of human nature. Closely associated with physiognomy i n Balzac's mind i s the idea of animal magnetism, as expounded by Mesmer, who enjoyed a great vogue i n Europe p r i o r to the turn of the century. This was bound to appeal to Balzac's underlying mysticism and he made such use of i t that i t might be said to be one of the trade-marks of his strong characters. Lav- 1 -26- ater also was a proponent of the new force, and i f Balzac had not already become acquainted with the phenomenon i n other l i t e r a r y works, he would have found ample discussion of i t i n Lavater. I t i s there defined as a force: " ...que nous appelons lumiere, f l u i d e magnltique ou e l e c t r i q u e , . . . L 1 o e i l du genie semble avoir des emanations qui 'agicJCw. agissent physiquement et imme'diatement sur d autres yeux.1 11. Curtius r i g h t l y assigns primary importance to t h i s factor i n Balzac's mind: " Mais ce qui 1'interessait par-dessus tout, c ' e t a i t l e 'regard magnet ique', ce 'rayon charge' d'Hme', par lequel l ' e t r e qui en est doue peut soumettre a son enti£re volonte d'autres personnes. I I n'y a presque pas un seul l i v r e de Balzac ou. ce regard ne joue un role plus ou moins mystirieux. Toutes les natures fortes chez Balzac soumettent leurs adversaires par ce regard qui deeharge l e f l u i d e de leur v o l o n t l . " 12. So here then i s the second secret inner source of Vautrin's power over others. A b r i e f look at some of Balzac's e a r l i e r works w i l l indicate how important t h i s feature was i n the development of his strong characters. Balzac's work, from Stenie i n 1819-1820, to Splen- deurs et miseres des courtisanes i n 1847, i s shot through 13 with magnetism. Jacob Del Ryes says "mon regard tue" , and, speaking of St€nie, he says, "Quelque chose de plus qu'humain 11. Johann Lavater, L'Art de connaitre les hommes par l a physionomie (Paris :Nile Ed.,Augmented par M.Moreau, 1806-1809) ,vi,93.. 12. Curtius, op_cit.,p.62. 13. Honoris de Balzac, Steliie (Paris :"ConctccL, 1930) ,p. 78. -27- s'echappe d ' e l l e , ce f l u i d e incomprehensible qui part des yeux, qui s'exhale d'elle et que tu rangeras o\i tu voudras..." The elder Beringheld wore dark glasses, which should be com- pared to Carlos" Herrera's double green lenses, worn to hide his shining eyes. Since there i s r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e v a r i a - t i o n i n the way Balzac uses magnetism throughout his whole career, i t w i l l s u f f i c e to give but a few examples,—this one concerning La Femme de trente ans; " Balzac se souviendra encore de cet aventurier/mandarin l o r s q u ' i l £crira La Femme: le capitaine Pari s i e n , seul martre a bord de l'Othello, n'est autre qu'Argow, mais h e r i t i e r des theories balzaciennes sur le magne'tisme et l'hypnose ou, du moins, d i s c i p l e de cet abbe Faria q u i , d'apr^s Monsieur de Jouy, a de'fraye' quelque temps l a chronique parisienne."15 A passage i n Une Tene*breuse A f f a i r e i s p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t e r e s t i n g since i t shows how cl o s e l y t h i s magnetism i s linked i n Balzac's mind with power, whether for good or e v i l : " Depuis t r o i s quarts d'heure, cet homme avait dans l e geste et dans l e regard une autorite" despotique i r r e s i s t i b l e , puisne a l a source commune et inconnue ou puisent leurs pouvoirs extraordinaires et les grandssgeneraux sur le champ de b a t a i l l e ou l i s enflament les masses, et les grands orateurs qui entralnent les assembles et, disons l e aussi, les grands criminels dans leurs coups audacieux! I I semble alors q u ' i l s'exhale de l a t£te et que l a parole porte une influence i n v i n c i b l e que l e geste injecte le vo u l o i r de l1homme chez autrui."16 14. Ibid.,p.53. 15. Prioult,op cit.,p.380. 16. Geoffroy Atkinson, Les Idles de Balzac d'apres 'La Come'die humaine(Geneve:Droz. 1949-1950).III.96. -28- B i l l y confirms the importance of t h i s phenomenon i n Balzac's work when he speaks of: " Le regard magnetique, fascinateur, dont i l se c r o y a i t doue', dont i l l ' e t a i t reellement sans doute et q u ' i l a prete k beaucoup de ses personnages, particulferement a Vautrin... le regard froidement fascinateur que certains hommes eminement magne"tiques ont le don de lancer et qui, dit-on, calme les fous furieux dans les maisons d'ali^nes." 17. Indeed Vautrin had recourse to t h i s cold, penetrating gaze on several occasions as he attempted to calm an h y s t e r i c a l Lucien or Eugene. And so we conclude that Vautrin has the same physi- c a l powers shared by some of these e a r l i e r creations of Balzac's and we sense that he knows how to use them to control others. Indeed, Bardeche says: " Toute sa theorie de l a m a t e r i a l i t e de l a pense'e a pour fondement les phenomenes psychiques qui tenaient tant de place dans l'oeuvre de 1820, et qui expliquent les actions des t t r e s dou^s de pouvoirs exceptionnels, les s o r ciers, les possedes, les gens a seconde vue et les demoniaques de toute esp£ce."18 Vautrin thus appears mysterious, satanic, with divinatory powers and, facing his stare, men, women and walls are re- duced to shadows of t h e i r former selves. As far as physio- gnomy i s concerned, the major emphasis i s placed on his "regard devinateur", on his "profondeur immobile d'un 18a sphinx qui s a i t , v o i t tout, et ne d i t r i e n . " 17. Andre B i l l y , La Vie de Balzac(Paris:Flammarion.1944).PP.217-218, 18. Bardeche, op cit.,p.367. 18a. Goriot, p. 104. -29- The Physiognomy of Vamtrin The importance of Balzac's a r t of portraiture i s clo s e l y a l l i e d to his b e l i e f that external features mirror the inner s e l f . B i l l y suggests that Balzac's early novels and those which l a t e r compose La Comedie humaine, have a common th e o r e t i c a l basis: " La preoccupation d'une psychologie fondle en physionomie."19 " La r e a l i t e l a plus I j r i v i a l e ou l a plus f o r t u i t e l u i apparaitra toujours comme rentrant dans un systeme occulte et resultant d'une mystirieuse combinaison 20 des forces qui depassent 11entendement commun." Consequently, as with a l l of Balzac's characters, i t i s im- portant to pay close attention to the small d e t a i l s that reveal the essential being. Balzac tends to be vague i n r e l a t i o n to his descrip- t i o n of Vautrin himself. One has only to,refer to the text to see that Balzac i s extremely restrained i n t h i s instance, preferring to give s t r i k i n g d e t a i l s rather than revealing essentials, For example, the f i r s t description of him i s limit e d to scarcely three l i n e s i n the Pl^iade e d i t i o n . I t i s buried between the t y p i c a l lengthy description of Madame Vauquer and Mademoiselle Michonneau:"...un homme age d'environ quarante ans, qui p o r t a i t une perruque noire, se t e i g n a i t les 19. B i l l y , o p c i t . , p.63. 20. Ibid. ,p7b5~. 21 «• Bal'zacc, Goriot p e31 a -30- 21 f a v o r i s , se d i s a i t ancien negociant, et s'appelait M.Vautrin." As a description of Vautrin, t h i s i s excellent, for Balzac has not merely given a l i s t of things constituting the d i s - guise and not the man. But t h i s kind of brevity i s rare i n Balzac, and, i n f a c t , does not l a s t long. After painting a rather detailed p o r t r a i t of Victorine T a i l l e f e r , and one i n less d e t a i l of Rastignac, Balzac places Vautrin as a kind of t r a n s i t i o n between youthful idealism and cyn i c a l old age, seemingly because he combines elements of each i n his complex personality. In his description of Vautrin, Balzac landed on what could be c a l l e d a poetic technique of por t r a i t u r e : por- t r a i t u r e by suggestion.rather than by precise and numerous d e t a i l . Fernand Roux has noted the difference.between the description of Vautrin and the usual Balzacian description, without however, seeing the f u l l significance of the former. After discussing d e t a i l i n description, he says: " Proce*de-t-il autrement, prenez garde! Son imagination vous emportera Men v i t e dans l e monde des reves ou des cauchemars; e l l e vous ouvrira l e c i e l devant S"eraph2ta ou les enfers devant Vaj&trin; vous v i s i t e r e z des pays de contours vagues que l'on ne v o i t qu'en songe."22 We w i l l see however, that a double objective was accomplish- ed by the reticence, only one of which was to make Vautrin 21. Balzac, Goriot p.31. 22. Fernand Roux, "Balzac jurisconsulte et c r i m i n a l i s t e , " Archives d 1anthropologic c r i m i n e l l e , (Paris; 1906),xxi,323. -31- mysterious. In Le B£re Goriot we are f i r s t introduced to Vautrin, the physical figure, followed by a more general represen- t a t i o n of the character, going beyond the physical and sup- plementing i t , The ambiguity of the man i s immediately apparent: " A l a mani&re dont i l l a n c a i t un j e t de sa l i v e , i l annoncait un sang f r o i d imperturbable qui ne devait pas le f a i r e reculer devant un crime pour s o r t i r d'une s i t u a t i o n Equivoque. Comme un juge seVere, son o e i l semblait a l l e r au fond de toutes les questions, de toutes les consciences, de tous les sentiments... i l savait ou devinaiteles a f f a i r e s de ceux qui 1 1entouraient, tandis que nul ne pouvait p l n i t r e r n i ses pejise'es, n i ses occupations. Quoiqu'il eut jet£ son apparente bonhommie, sa constante complaisance et sa gaiete comme une barriere entre les autres et l u i , souvent i l l a i s s a i t percer 1'epouvantable profondeur de son caractere." 23 Faguet's extensibrioof t h i s description i s i n t e r e s t i n g because of the elements of uneasiness, discomfiture and intrigue that i t reveals between the l i n e s of Balzac's p o r t r a i t : " Vautrin est un bandit et c'est un homme de puissante volonte'. Mais i l importe, pour l a conduite de son roman, que l'auteur ne dise pas tout de suite q u ' i l est un bandit. A cause de cel a , i l l e pr£sente seulement d'abord comme un homme iinq u i e t a n t ' . . . II est secret; on ne s a i t r i e n de l u i , n i de ce q u ' i l f a i t , et des personnages plus "eveilles que ceux de l a pension Vauquer en concevraient quelque ombrage; inconsciemment, du reste, i l s sont tous un peu te r r o r i s e s sinon.de s s n t i r q u ' i l s ne savent r i e n de l u i , / du mo ins de s e n t i r q u ' i l devine .. - 23. Goriot p. 36. sinon de sen t i r q u ' i l s ne savent r i e n de l u i , du moins de sen t i r q u ' i l devine tout d'eux. De plus, i l a un ce r t a i n regard profond et penetrant et une certaine durete de physionomie quand i l ne r i t pas, qui font contraste avec ses manieres accomo- dantes et qui, *h de moins engourdis, feraient soupconner qu'elles sont f a c t i c e s . Et enfin, i l est bien adroit a dlmonter les serrures. Tous ces t r a i t s constituent le 'personnage i n q u i e t a n t 1 , non tout k f a i t pour les pensionnaires, mais pour le lecteur, en le mettant sur l a vole de soupconner l e forban, ce qui est ce que veut l'auteur. En attendant, l e p o r t r a i t est acheve; on a d'ores et d£ja 1'impression d'un homme e'nergique et adr o i t , resolu et habile, maitre de l u i , autonome, sans prejuges et sans manies et qui ne peut gu£re £tre autre chose qu'un bandit ou un p o l i c i e r . Le p o r t r a i t , f o r t sombre, trace" a grandes lignes prdcises et creuse'es, est de toute beaute." 24 Yet Vautrin, i n comparison with other Balzac figures, a c t u a l l y i s slighted from the viewpoint of physiognomy. His few outstanding c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s are well remembered: the eyes; the powerful b u i l d , the strong hands tufted with red- dish hair. One r e c a l l s also that the sight of Vautrin's unwigged head produced a t e r r i f y i n g e f f e c t i n the Vauquer boarding house and i n the Conciergerie during his interview with G r a n v i l l e . But when one t r i e s to r e c a l l d e t a i l s ex- plaining why the head was so horr i b l e to look on, one i s hard put to f i n d reasons. The fact i s , that with admirable r e s t r a i n t , Balzac did not give them. Fernand Roux notes: 24. Emile Faguet, Balzac (Paris: Hachette, Grands Ecrivains franeais 1913), pp. 83-WT. -33- 11 Seul peut-e^tre de tous les p o r t r a i t s de La Com^die humaine,celui de Vautrin est d£pourvu d'inter§t. Les mains,—ces mains elles-m£mes qui pour Balzac, decelent tant de choses!...ri'indiquent chez le forcat qu'une puissance brutale. Dans les quatre ou cinq volumes ou Vautrin apparalt, vous chercheriez en vain de l u i un croquis quelque peu net. Sa p o i t r i n e velue, ses muscles gros et courts, qui rappellent ceux d'Hercule Farn&se, l a puissance de volonte qui s'echappe de son regard, constituent des t r a i t s g^neVeux, formules presque en termes a b s t r a i t s , i n - ^ ( 25 susceptibles de determiner une i n d i v i d u a l i t e . " What Roux sees as inadequacy i n description could very l i k e - l y be the r e s u l t of Balzac's desire to i d e n t i f y himself with his creation. He c e r t a i n l y does so i n ideas, why should he not also i n physique? I f Balzac succeeds to some degree i n masking his own person and personality behind Vautrin, he also succeeds i n furthering the a i r of mystery surrounding the master cr i m i n a l . Concluding our remarks on the myster- ious and powerful Vautrin, we turn to what can be consider- ed the purpose of such endowments: using them to Satanic ends. Satanic Soul Balzac says of his creation: " ...cet homme qui ne fut plus un homme, mais l e type de toute une nation de'genere'e, d'un peuple sauvage et logique, b r u t a l et souple. En un moment C o l l i n devint un po£me i n f e r n a l ou se peignirent tous les sentiments humains, moins un seul, c e l u i 25. Roux, p.323. 26 & Goriot pffl1860 -34- du repentir. Son regard e t a i t c e l u i de 26 I'archange dlchu qui veut toujours l a guerre." EstVve has written too: " La Cornedie humaine aura...les Philippe Bridau, les Vautrin, les Gobseck, incarnations modernes et re*alistes de cette Inergie malfaisante que Byron avait symbolisle dans Lara et dans Manfred." 27 It i s apparent indeed that Vautrin was the romantic hero, endowed with Byronic d e v i l t r y , So we come to a question that has often been raised: i s Vautrin an incarnation of S Satan, a h a l f - divine being who discerns where others are powerless to see? In studying the elements of mystery and power i n Vautrin 1s nature, i t would be inappropriate to neglect those elements of demonology which Balzac att r i b u t e d to him, though they perhaps are of less appeal today than i n a period dominated by the mists and shadows of romanticism^ No doubt he bears many resemblances with Melmoth i n Melmoth re'concilie. Both suggest an intrusion of the supernatural into the world of drab routine, poisoning souls with c a l - culated misanthropy and denying d i s t i n c t i o n s between good and e v i l . In f a c t , we count w e l l over f i f t y references to the Devil i n the three novels, including Vautrin being c a l l e d "diable supe'rieur". Esther exclaims j e s t i n g l y at f i r s t : "Vous me f a i t e s l ' e f f e t d'un demon!", only to inquire l a t e r : ————— 7 P "Est-ce le diable?" Balzac does rr-t conceal h i i f . . '• 26. Goriot p. 186. 27. " Edmond Esteve, Byron et l e romanticisme francais (Paris:Boivin et Cie.,1929),p.493. -35- Lst-ce le d i a b l e ? " Z O e Bal zac does not conceal his t e r r i f i e d f ascination with the "archange de"chu" he has created. The reader i s harried and haunted by an extensive miasma of epithets: " t e r r i b l e mentor","terrible a t h l e t e " , " t e r r i b l e pre^tre", " t e r r i b l e juge", "ge'nie de l a corruption", "genie du mal","feroce conducteur","f^roce calculateur","Machiavel du bagne", not to mention numerous references to demonology. Not only was Vautrin a s p i r i t u a l incarnation of Satan, but he bore him a physical resemblance as w e l l . For i n - stance, Balzac l i k e d to a t t r i b u t e a symbolic colour to the features, eyes and hair of his most excessive characters. The red h a i r , colour of l i f e and f i r e , b e f i t s someone he c a l l s a "poete i n f e r n a l " . Indications of Satan become even strong- er as his a l l u s i o n s become more pointed, e s p e c i a l l y when he associates his role with that of Destiny:Je me charge du role de l a Providence;" or"Voici quarante ans...que nous remplacons le Destin." And f i n a l l y , there i s Rastignac 1s neat delineation: "Dieu et Satan se sont entendus pour fondre Vautrin." Certainly these signs point to a demonic essence of unusual proportions who j u s t i f i e s Balzac's dictum that: "Tous les grands hommes sont des monstres." His behaviour also as an energy of l i f e , an avenging force of reason, and a power breaking the f e t t e r s that enchain human thought, give him the pride and strength of an"infernal g£nie". 28. Splendeurs pp.108,112 and for the following page. -36- This semi-demonic soul, combining mystery, power and Satanic overtones springs from Balzac's fascination with the man motivated by passion: " Paris! i l s'y rencontre des hommes a" passions.. Ces gens-la n'ont s o i f que d'une certaine eau prise a une certaine fontaine...pour en boire, i l s vendraient leur ame au diable.. Cette fontaine est le jeu, l a Bourse, l a musique.. Balzac's characters are open to these powerful temptations, extensions of the Archfiend on earth, where l i f e , f a r from being what i t appears on the surface, conceals i t s inner substance i n the shadows of the legendary s p i r i t s of darkn- ness. " S ' i l importe d'etre sublime en quelque genre , c'est 30 surtout en mal." In f a c t , Vautrin derives the pride of Lucifer i n being "seul contre le gouvernement avec son tas 31 de tribunaux, de gendarmes, de budgets" , and, though he leaves the Vauquer home i n handcuffs, i s remorselessly happy to add:"et je les roule". His promise to send the other pensionnaires f i g s from Provence, while consistent with the behaviour of a farceur, leaves the foretaste of a d i f f e r e n t and disquieting promise — h i s return. A momentary triumph of order cannot efface the permanence of e v i l . I l l u s i o n s perdues provides a very s p e c i f i c example of Vautrin's satanic soul i n his dealings with Lucien. There i s c l e a r l y a demonic pact underneath the r e a l i s t i c events. 29. Goriot p. 61. 30. Denis Diderot, Le Neveu de Rameau(Paris:Fabre,1950), p.61 31. G@riot p.187. -37- The usual exchange of gold at the conclusion of the pact has as i t s counterpart i n Lucien's dealings with Herrera when Lucien, a f t e r signing the pact, suddenly finds himself i n possession of a large enough" sumo.pf money to undo some of the damage he had caused at home. There i s a v i r t u a l re- versal of the customary pact with the d e v i l however. In the usual sense, the human partner who delivers his soul to the d e v i l gains the power of passing into other people's bodies, usually those younger and wealthier than himself. Vautrin represents the genius of E v i l and Lucien makes a pact with him, but i n t h i s case, i t i s the d e v i l who attempts to f i n d a new l i f e through the body of his v i c t i m . Vautrin indeed claims to have the power of almost complete i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with Lucien, much as Goriot claims i t i n respect to his daughters. This i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with another personality and the a b i l i t y to derive happiness through another's pleasures i s perhaps j u s t a more r e a l i s t i c version of the mystic passing of one personality into the body of another such as Balzac no doubt read i n the Arabian Nights. This transubstantiation however, w i l l be l e f t to Chapter Four. There i s a lineage of t h i s kind of Satanic power, or w i l l to dominate, i n Balzac's t o t a l production. L'Hlritie're de Birague marked the e v i l figure of the Abbe" de l a B l e t t e r i e , Le Corrupteur showed the moral dissolutuion of a young man, Argow l e pirate produced a p l o t t i n g s o c i a l climber, La Peau de chagrin disclosed a dejected youth unwittingly engaged i n -38- a Faustian pact, Ferragus presented a v e r i t a b l e rebel, and La F i l l e aux yeux d'or introduced a d e v i l and h i s d i s c i p l e , the Abbe de Maronis and de Marsay. But none soars l i k e Vautrin. De Marsay, the "corsaire en gants jaunes" of im- peccable behaviour and impenetrability i s i n a sense Vautrin's i d e a l , what he would l i k e Rastignac and Rubempre' to become --the dispassionate, e v i l being par excellence who can appear to respect the laws and yet be a "professeur es sceleratesses". However, he remains a symbol of an incarnation, an exquisite- l y handsome Dorian Gray who can with impunity refuse obed- ience to' society. 1 Vautrin, on the other hand, i s the s p i r i t wHorhaslgiven himself wings to swoop down upon the i n f e r n a l throng of Paris but not into i t , not only because he cannot, but because he already exercises great power there. He i s not the prototype of the i n d i v i d u a l who l i v e s i n the margin of society and the law, as many have described him. Rather, he i s outside of society, happy to enjoy " l a royautl que l u i donnaient l e cynisme de ses pensees, de ses actes, et l a force d'une organisation f a i t e a tout!" Curtius continues: " Vautrin devient done finalement pour Balzac le type des natures dimoniaques, qui r€sument £ouj;e's leg forces .humaines. L'eneVgie, toutes les energies amasse'es et condensers dans une figure grandiose, i l f a l l a i t que Balzac r^alis'ltt dans son oeuvre ce beau spectacle; et i l crea Vautrin, l e reVolt^, l e surhomme, ange fascinant du mal, Vautrin est 1'enfant pref^re" de son imagination 32. F e l i c i e n Marceau, Balzac et son monde Edi t i o n revue et augmented, (Paris:Gallimard,ly/0;, p.278. ~ -39- d ' a r t i s t e et de sa volonte' de puissance, o son propre p o r t r a i t , mais esquisse par l a main de son demon." 33. Conclusion In studying the aura of mystery and power with which Balzac surrounds his criminal hero, we have shown that i t i s through the process of weaving together several ele- ments that the n o v e l i s t arrived at his end. We have, i n t h i s chapter, attempted to show how mystery and power and awe were created by witholding c e r t a i n information i n some cases and by the use of implication i n o t h e r s — f o r example, re- garding Vautrin 1s criminal a c t i v i t i e s . Demonology and the theme of the outlaw hero were both popular f i e l d s which Bal- zac did not hesitate to e x p l o i t . By c l e v e r l y a t t r i b u t i n g knowledge of physiognomy and magnetism to Vautrin, rather than reserving i t for himself as author-commentator, Balzac gave Vautrin power over people and s k i l l i n handling them. F i n a l l y , we have seen how the mystery and power-loving side of Balzac's own nature entered into the formation of his crim- i n a l hero. We have suggested too that i n producing mystery through a minimal physical description of Vautrin, and th- rough the device of implied c r i m i n a l i t y , Balzac a r r i v e d , perhaps unwittingly, at other ends which contribute largely to the success of his character. Thus,the sum of the elements discussed herein makes up the e s s e n t i a l character background for the next chapter: an analysis of Vautrin as a "gdnie de l a revolte". 33. Curtius, p.162. -40- CHAPTER THREE: SPIRIT OP REVOLT Introduction In discussing Vautrin as an embodiment of r e v o l t , several questions must be considered: i s Vautrin r e a l l y a r e f l e c t i o n of Balzac's own s o c i a l theories, a medium through which the author expresses his views, or i s Vautrin's law- less behaviour j u s t i f i e d by his unfortunate treatment by m l society,? Is his character development rounded enough to make his sense of revolt r e a l i s t i c ? To answer these key questions, we s h a l l examine some of Balzac's views of soc- i e t y , as expressed by himself and by characters i n his pre- ceding novels. Having established the relevance of his theories to the development of Vautrin, we s h a l l attempt to show the reasons behind Vautrin's own indignant outcries. As Vautrin appears well-equipped for r e v o l t , we s h a l l observe how he ex- ecutes his a n t i - s o c i a l plans. F i n a l l y , the intimate bond between Balzac and his creation w i l l be explored while an attempt w i l l be made to convey that Vautrin i s not j u s t a mouth-piece but an end i n himself. We s h a l l begin by tracing the growth of rebellious prototypes of Vautrin i n Balzac's work. _41_ Balzac the A n t i - S o c i a l i s t Balzac's early novels expressed c e r t a i n well-defined s o c i a l p r i n c i p l e s . Le Tartare ou le retour de 1'exile', by Auguste de V i e l l e r g l l , ( 1 8 2 2 ) , uses as an epigraph for the second chapter, a quotation from Lord R'hoone's Essa-is ph i l o- sophiques , a work of which we have no further information, which states:"L'homme-de l a nature a des passions plus fortes et surtout plus vraies que 1'homme c i v i l i s e . Rien n'altere l a 2 justesse de ses jugements." * Balzac's basic philosophy i n his early works puts into d i r e c t opposition Nature and C i v i l - i z a t i o n , and he expresses a general protest against a l l s o c i a l laws, as seen i n Physiologie du mariage. The "man of nature" has not yet learned to be a hypocrite; he has not been corrupt- ed by man-made laws and false society. La Derniere Fie, a t a l e from Balzac's Juvenalia, i s a sharp and b i t t e r c r i t i c i s m of the inhumanity of man. In t h i s story, Abel i s a young man who, by some miracle, has been pre- served from the tainted society around him. He i s an example of the "man of nature" who i s s t i l l capable of pure passion and a natural s i m p l i c i t y . The"derniere feV' } a wealthy English duchess, has grown weary of the world and i t s ways, and seeks the joys of a true love away from a pretentious society. This f a i r y t a l e s a t i r i z e s the society of the duchess by placing i t 2. As quoted i n Guyon,p.l61. -42- i n contrast with the i d e a l and natural world of Abel. The f a i r y explains the rules of her world, showing how absurd the laws are, and how they lead, more often than not, to undesir- able ends. She expounds on the cruel t y of society, the lack of concern for others and the general indifference of mankind for his fellow-beings. She scorns the importance attached to such status symbols as uniforms, ribbons and badges, thereby severing d r a s t i c a l l y with t r a d i t i o n a l values. Such preference for man's natural g i f t s becomes more and more evident i n Bal- zac 's writings. Balzac was also.lgresfcly_ influenced by the expression of anarchy i n Byron's rebels. A stronger influence on t h i s same subject came from William Godwin. In the preface to Annette ou le c r i m i n e l , smite du V i c a i r e des Ardennes, he c a l l s Caleb Wil- liams by Godwin a masterpiece. William Godwin presented his theories i n a work c a l l e d Enquiry concerning p o l i t i c a l j u s t i c e and i t s influence on jim.orale and happiness, and i l l u s t r a t e d them i n the novel Caleb Williams. Godwin expressed,the extreme end of i n t e l l e c t u a l i s m as i t concerns society and morality. The end r e s u l t of his philosophy was a t o t a l anarchy, the doing a\ away with the e x i s t i n g s o c i a l order by an all-powerful l o g i c . The i n t e l l e c t u a l search for t r u t h and j u s t i c e was the only basis for his system. Int e l l e c t u a l i s m was to conquer emotion and lead man to the highest goal, theecommon good. The d i s - t r i b u t i o n of wealth, forms of government, standards of l i v i n g , and s o c i a l customs were to be remodelled on the p r i n c i p l e of -43- f u l l r i ghts of equality and l i b e r t y for a l l i n a society found- ed upon reason. In Caleb Williams, Godwin declares a l l govern- ment to be a necessary e v i l , which i t i s hoped one day w i l l disappear and no longer be necessary. He sees man as his own natural enemy, the only animal that seeks the destruction of i t s own kind. Caleb Williams and Falkland represent the two types into which Godwin considers society to be divided - the slaves and the master. He condemns society for being l i k e t h i s , and he defends the type of man who r e s i s t s i t s d i c t a t i o n s . Godwin represented Balzac's own personal v i s i o n of the world, and Caleb Williams provided Balzac with the argu- ments to j u s t i f y the criminal' struggle against organized soc- i e t y . The th^'ef, who steals without a license, as i t were, i s i n open war against the man who steals withathe sanction of the law. Balzac inherited from Byron and Godwin a secret sympathy for anarchy whichiis t h i n l y v e i l e d throughout his works (and t h i s ) despite the fact that generally he claims to support authority *afui proudly states that he i s w r i t i n g : " ...a l a lueur de deux Ve'rite's e'ternelles: l a Religion et l a Monarchie, deux ne"cessites aye les £y£.nements contemporains proclament, et vers lesqueiies tout eGrxvaan de bon sens doit ramener notre pays." 3. • Balzac's c r i t i c i s m of society and s o c i a l laws lead from Argow le Pirate and s i m i l a r early works that g l o r i f y the rebel, through the Code des gens honne^tes, and Physiologie du mariage 3. Balzac, Oeuvres completes (Pafr-is-: 'GWfihrd, 1940), Vol. 1, xxxi -44- into the novels of La Cornedie humaine. The f i n a l expression of Balzac* s scorn and condemnation of society reaches i t s peak i n the figure of Vautrin as traced through Le Pe*re Goriot, I l l u s i o n s perdues and Splendeurs et miseres des coutisanes. Pathos for the p l i g h t of the i n d i v i d u a l at the mercy of an impersonal s o c i a l order, and a f e e l i n g of disgust for that s o c i a l order which forces men to l i v e outside the law, p r e v a i l throughout Le Plre Goriot and i n part sets the tone of Balzac's thoughts through the rest of La Cornedie humaine. We s h a l l now turn to a closer examination of Balzac's s p e c i f i c thoughts on society and his sympathies with a n t i - s o c i a l i s t s . Balzac evolved with keen enjoyment a s o c i a l philo- sophy i n defence of thieves and i l l u s t r a t e s i n several pages of the Code a l l the provocative understanding which characterizes any tirade by Vautrin. He talk s of t h e i r special contribution to the s o c i a l order, of the need to judge them with impartial- i t y because judges and victims a l i k e are of no mind to do so, and of t h e i r rare a t t r i b u t e s : " ...un homme rare; l a nature l ' a concu en enfant gate; e l l e a rassemble sur l u i toutes so sortes de perfections: un sang-froid imperturbable, une audace a toute ejpreuve, 1 art de s a i s i r 1'occasion, s i rapide et s i lente, l a prestesse, le courage, une bonne constitution,des yeux percants, des mains a g i l e s , une physionomie heureuse et mobile. Tous ces avantages ne sont r i e n pour le voleur: i l s foment cependant le somme des talents d un Armibal, d'un Catalina, d'un Marius, d'un Clsar." * 4. Guyon, p. 210. -45- In addition to a l l t h i s , the criminal must be a judge of charac- t e r , an accomplished l i a r and able to foresee events. He must have a l i v e l y mind and be able to seize every available oppor- tunity and use i t to his advantage. He must be an actor i n a l l classes of society. Balzac's interest i n the criminal and his admiration of him do not stop with the i n d i v i d u a l criminal but extend to the brotherhood of criminals organized to win over society. Though Vautrin embodies the above q u a l i t i e s , we would do w e l l to compare him to a fellow s p i r i t , Gobseck, Balzac's second greatest genie c r i m i n e l . Gobseck i s one of the p r i n c i p a l reproductions of the above category of beings, superior i n i n t e l l i g e n c e and energy, who, i n Balzac's mind, are by d e f i n i t i o n set apart from society. Gobseck says:"...je posslde le monde sans fatigue et le monde n'a pas la.moindre prise sur moi."^* Bardeche points out that t h i s sentiment i s an addition dating from 1836, not present i n the o r i g i n a l 1830 text of Gobseck. He continues, showing some of that part of Vautrin which i s added to Gobseck's character: "Toute l a confession de D e r v i l l e rajoute'e dans l a rendition .^1836), est, en r e a l i t e , une echo de l'oeuvre recente de Balzac dans les Scenes de l a vie privee: ce sont les theories de Vautrin, qui, expr im§ e s 1' anne- e pre'ce'dente dans L e P l r e Goriot, ont sugge're' \ Balzac les theories de Gobseck. Et 1 approfondissement^de Gobseck est, ^ a cette date, un r e f l e t de l a creation de Vautrin." " Barriere describes the usurer as follows i n the same novel: 5. Bardeche, p. 288. 6. Ibid,p. 289. -46- " Goriot a pour l'humanite un mepris sans bornes. I l exerce par son or un pouvoir i l l i m i t l . Son existence est pour lui-meSne une perpe'tuelle £tude de tous les mouvements x ignobles du coeur humain, inspires par 1'argent; i l puise dans ses observations des j o i e s analogues a eelles de Satan dans son acharnement h damner les hommes. "7/.' His power arises from money and his scorn from his obviously distorted experience of l i f e . In the l a t t e r sense, he can be compared with many of the embittered characters of the Comedie humaine, to the vicomtesse de Beauseant a f t e r her d i s i l l u s i o n - ment i n Le Pire Goriot,to Ferragus, to Maitre Cornelius and to de Marsay,:"...sorte de g a l l r i e n des hautes classes, dans l a nature duquel Balzac a tout m&ll: ge"nie du vice et genie de l a 8 science, genie de l a p o l i t i q u e et glnie de l 1amour sensuel." * P a r a l l e l with these more or less honourable members of society, we find'Balzac expressing admiration of and sympathy for crimin- a l s , insofar as they represent v i t a l energy, andufeferring to them as"...ces grands hommes manques, que l a societe' marque d'avance au f e r chaud, en les appelant des mauvais sujets."^* Perhaps part of his sympathy for the exceptional i n d i v i d u a l who i s discriminated agahst can be found i n a view of the pr e v a i l i n g s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n and mood. In the f i r s t half of the nineteenth century, many writers including Balzac, were influenced by the example of Napoleon which was s t i l l fresh i n t h e i r minds. 11 ...the Napoleonic legend, the ceaseless ambition of the Emperor, s t i l l t r a v a i l e d i n the minds of many wr i t e r s . Beranger, Stendhal^ Balzac, Hugo, a l l revered Bonaparte, a l l dreamed or 1 l abored -c.lonp lSkmoleon''.y J i • : s 7.Pierre Barriere, Honor! de Balzac et l a t r a d i t i o n l i t t e r a i r e . ' classique(Paris: Hachette, iy28;,p.258. 8.ibid.,p.183. 9.Balzac, Les Marana (Pleiade),ix,792. -47- labored along Napoleonic l i n e s . A whole new order of personalities and ideas came into being a f t e r Waterloo."10. Vautrin i s proof of t h i s influence. Brunetiere referred to him as "ce de'charnement d'energierbrutale provoque par l'exemple 0 11 de Napollon et de sa prodigieuse fortune." * The fan t a s t i c history of Napoleon was the most v i v i d image of the s p i r i t of Vautrin: the greatest demonstration of revolt the world had ever seen. However, from the very inception of the Restoration, when the former s o c i a l order was reinstated, the i n d i v i d u a l was r e s t r i c t e d to the class and position into which he had been born. There was much discontentment among the young men for they were inspired by the history of Napoleon on the one hand, and r e s t r i c t e d to t h e i r inherited s o c i a l position on the other. Vautrin t e l l s Rastignac i n Le Pe*re Goriot, that ihi-France there must be at least f i f t y thousand >young men who were attempt- ing to make a quick fortune. They spent a great deal of energy and the struggle was merciless. These young men were obliged to endeavour to destroy each other l i k e "des araignles dans un pot", because there were not f i f t y thousand good positions 12 ava i l a b l e . ' Even Vautrin was subject to these same laws of ': the jungle i f he wished to succeed i n the renewed class con- sciousness. 10. Ethel Dargan and George Weinberg, The Evolution of Balzac's 'Comgdie humaine' (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1942),p.52 11. Ferdinand Brunetiere, Honor! de Balzac (Paris: Calmann-Levy, 1906) p.220. 12. Goriot, p.110. -48- And so, Balzac used his a n t i - s o c i a l characters to demonstrate the i n j u s t i c e of French society during the trans- i t i o n period between pre-revolutionary days of the aristocracy and the modern French society. As a r e s u l t of the f r u s t a t i n g s o c i o l o g i c a l conditions, i t had become popular for writers to treat criminals, usurers, prostitutes and the l i k e , as enemies of an un f a i r society. As we s h a l l see, through the study of Balzac's greatest a n t i - s o c i a l hero,Vautrin, these enemies were i d e a l i s t i c and possessed d i g n i t y . They often spoke of the f u t i l - i t y of honesty and the lack of reward for earnest e f f o r t and f i d e l i t y . Balzac made heroes and heroines of them because he regarded them as enemies of a society which he considered e v i l . Balzac recognized genius i n the t h i e f and he blamed society and an inexplicable fate for having prevented the t h i e f from becoming a great man. Some of those who are considered to be great men are those who are i n some sense outlaws or rebels to an e x i s t i n g s o c i a l order, but who somehow were able to reach the top and conquer the very society that would have been the f i r s t condemn them. The c r i m i n a l , l i k e Vautrin, recognizing genius within himself, knows that he has the a b i l i t y to climb the s o c i a l scale but, since society scorns his poverty, he has to turn to crime as a quick way to become r i c h . During t h i s t time, he builds up a scorn for society and, as he lacks moral strength, he i s doomed to f a i l i n his quest far s o c i a l recog- -49- n i t i o n . This criminal element formed a r e a l part of the society which Balzac attempted to paint and, as such, i t gave him the opportunity to attack society for i t s own weaknesses. For soc- i e t y , making criminals by the very laws i t enacts to prevent them, causes an inevitable class struggle between the "have" and the "have-not" elements i n a m a t e r i a l i s t i c system. Vautrin the Anarchist Vautrin's character formation points up poverty, un- happiness and multiple disadvantages i n his youth, coupled with insight and an ambition which no set of circumstances could r e s t r i c t . Though subject to a l l the i r r e g u l a r i t i e s of the aver- age human being, he displayed remarkable control over himself adn others, simulating the man devoid of v i c i s s i t u d e s . His most basic personal motivation was probably the fr u s t r a t i o n he encountered i n society. By the rules of the game, Vautrin could not r e a l i z e his own ambitions because he had been born with severe disadvantages. Later, he could not hope to advance himself to a s i g n i f i c a n t p o s i t i o n because of the rough- ness of his manner, his lack of formal education and his unsuit- ed physical appearance. Also, he was hindered by a criminal record acquired early i n l i f e . As we have noted, the glorious days of the Napoleonic era when a man l i k e Vautrin might have held some s i g n i f i c a n t rank i n the Emperor's army, or might have made his way to fame and fortune regardless of his lowly b i r t h , were no more. The Restoration, ggvernment of the 1830's attempt- -50- ed to return society to pre-Napoleonic conditions. Vautrin's reaction to finding himself discriminated against i n so many ways, was to turn on society and condemn i t for i t s narrow-minded'^prejuddtces?. '.After convincing himself that he was above l i f e i n society, his aim was to gain s o c i a l power by society's own means - wealth and prestige. The i n t e r - mediary of a s o c i a l l y acceptable protege' through whom he could gain vicarious enjoyment of a l l the pleasures denied him person- a l l y was his vehicle. Vautrin desired to take revenge on soc- i e t y by forcing someoneeelse into a successful p o s i t i o n despite the status quo of s o c i a l organization. To these ends, he re- cruited Eugene de Rastignac and Lucien de Rubempre. As t h e i r demonic preceptor, Vautrin teaches them that society has grad- u a l l y usurped, through itsalaw structure, so many r i g h t s over the i n d i v i d u a l , that a strong freedom-loving i n d i v i d u a l finds he i s forced to f i g h t i t on terms outside society's law. " I I 13 n'y a plus de l o i s , i l n'y a que des moeurs." By h i s dreadful presence then, Vautrin r e g i s t e r s a protfest- against an oppressive society. Part of his protest i s derived from his ancestor, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: " C o l l i n i c i present est un homme moins l£che que les autres et qui proteste contre les profondes deceptions de l ' ^ t a t s o c i a l , comme d i t Jean-Jacques Rousseau, dont je me g l o r i f i e d'etre l'£leve."14. 13. Goriot, p.115. 14. I b i d . t p.187. -51- Above a l l , he i s a rebel; when arrested, his f i r s t reaction i s to i n s u l t the police as minions of an unjust system/ 11 Nous avons moins d'infamie sur l'epaule que vous n'en avez dans le coeur, membres flasques d'une societe gangrenie...Je suis seul contre le gouvernement avec son tas de tribunaux, de gendarmes, de budgets et je les roule." 15. He wants to "fouetter l a haute socie'ti", " convince i t of i t s own pettiness. This r e b e l l i o n i s n ' t based on mere anarchy though. If he feels bitterness towards society, i t i s because he i s convinced that i t i s born of cowardice and based on stup i d i t y , on mediocre v i r t u e s , The struggle of the superior man i n society i s mainly against narrow-mindedness and med- i o c r i t y . Vautrin t e l l s Rastignac that one must make one's way p e r s i s t e n t l y i n one d i r e c t i o n without being swayed by the many harassing d i f f i c u l t i e s imposed by th bigoted world. Though he does not blame people for being as they are, one must nevertheless struggle against envy, mediocrity, calumny and every l i v i n g being. Vautrin helps to i l l u s t r a t e one of Balzac's concep- tions' of society. According to Vautrin, the i n d i v i d u a l i s faced with a major decision which he must make at some point i n his l i f e . He must either submit himself to societyyarid choose what Vautrin c a l l s "stupide obeissance" to the rules of the "bourbier", or refuse to cooperate and adopt a fo r c e f u l a t t i - 15.Ibid., p.186. 16. IBMf,', j p. 37. -52- tude of revolt. I t i s impossible to mix the two and remain honest with oneself. With the former, one accepts authority; with the l a t t e r , one obeys none. One's personal authority l i e s i n revolt i t s e l f . Vautrin says of himself: "Apres avoir examine les choses d'ici-bas, | a i vu q u ' i l n'y avait que deux parties a prendre: ou une stupide oblissance ou ^ l a revolte."Je n'oblis a r i e n , est-ce c l a i r ? " He reveals his distaste for those surrounding him i n passages such as the following: " S i Vautrin mlprise tous ces gens-la,ce n'est pas parce q u ' i l s se sont a l i e n l s , c c'est parce q u ' i l s sont incapables de se f i x e r un but Ic l a t a n t , q u ' i l s agissent en sotsget se comportent en aveugles."18. " . . . i l y a de l a bassesse a ne pas oser, a ne pas vo u l o i r , a se s a t i s f a i r e de joies mediocres, a se contenter de p l a i s i r s vulgaires. I l faut £tre a l a hauteur de ses ambitions, quelles qu'elles soient. 'Tout ou r i e n , v o i l a ma devise."19. If one chooses r e v o l t , then one goes into the fray against s o c i a l convention. According to Vautrin, t h i s i s the only hon- ourable decision to make. Once t h i s decision has been made, firm a n t i - s o c i a l action should begin immediately. As for Vautrin, he i s well equipped for revolt and feels able to com- mand th i s debased world "et d'imiter l a Providence qui nous tue a t o r t et a travers." Even without his s e l f assurance and b i t t e r truths, Vautrin makes a profoundly disturbing impression. For a l l his 17. Goriot, p.107. 18. Andre Allemand, Unife et structure de l'univers balzacien (Paris: Plon,1965),p.l48: 19. Goriot, p.133. -53- indomitable manner, his philosophy may be subconsciously the outcome of a disabused, sadly i r o n i c awareness: "L 1 e x p l o i t a t i o n supreme et d^sespe'ree d'une humanite qu'on aurait voulu mais que r i e n ne peut f a i r e meilleure. I I faut r e l i r e avec soin 1'indoctrination de Rastignac ou de2Q Rubempre. P h i l i n t e aurait le mtme ton." "Je consid^re les actions comme des moyens, et ne vois que le but! "21. To be a wily l i o n that k i l l s and i s not k i l l e d , t r i c k s and i s not t r i c k e d , leaves behind conscience and heart, wears a mask to deceive men arid exploit women, and that can, as at Lacedaemon, " s a i s i r sa fortune sans £tre vu, pour me'riter l a couronne," t h i s i s the brand of Machiavellism needed to succeed. The crown of success i s obtained i n one of two ways: " i l faut entrer dans cette masse d'hommes comme un boulet de canon, ou s'y g l i s s e r comme une peste."22. Vautrin's way i s the l a t t e r , to produce the e f f e c t of the former. For man i n general, Vautrin feels no compassion: "Qu^est-ce un homme pour moi? Ca! f i t - i l , en faisant claquer l'ongle de son pouce sous une de ses dents."23. He did however, f e e l strongly for his friends as ind i v i d u a l s . Vautrin was a fo r c e f u l personality. Persons of t h i s kind are noted for strength i n friendships as well as i n enmity. Vautrin believed i t i s better to be frank i n these matters than to use pretense and subterfuge: 20. Gabriel Teuler, Du Cftte* de Balzac (Paris: Plon, 1933), p. 48. 21. Goriot,p.154. 22. Ibid.,p.!10. 23. Ibid.,p.154. -54- "Voulez-vous connaitre mon caractere? Je suis bon avec ceux qui me font du bien ou dont le coeur parle au mien. A ceux-la tout est permis. l i s peuvent me donner des coups de pied dans les os ou les jambes sans que je leur dise: Prends garde! Mais, nom dfune pipe! Je suis me'chant comme le diable avec ceux qui me tracassent ou qui ne me reviennent pas." 24. Ambition was also a guiding star i n Vautrin's scheme. He believed ambition to be a rare thing, given to few. The ambitious man i s superior to others, he f e l t . He i s strong, determined, and has enormous value. Vautrin believed that i t i s tiresome always to want something and never to be s a t i s f i e d . As for his own ambition, he dclared:" ( j ' a ^ le sang fievreux 25 des lions et un appetit a f a i r e vingt sottises par jour." What he expounds to Rastignac i n the garden: "Parvenir! parvenir A tout p r i x . . . I l l n ' y a pas de principes, i l n'y a que des eVIne- ments; i l n'y a pas de l o i s , i l n'y a que des circonstances; et 1'homme superieur "epouse les evenements et les circonstances pour les conduire..."26. i s elaborated i n his sermon to Rubempre on the highway: "Ne voyez dans les hommes, et surtout dans les femmes, que des instruments; mais ne leur l a i s s e z pas v o i r . Adorez comme Dieu meme c e l u i qui, p l a c l plus haut que vous, peut vous £tre ^ u t i l e , et ne le quittez pas q u ' i l n'ait Apaye tres cher votre s e r v i l i t e " , soyez enfin apre comme le J u i f et bas comme l u i : f a i t e s pour l a puissance tout ce q u ' i l f a i t pour 1'argent. Mais aussi, n'ayez pas plus de souci de 1'homme tombe que s ' i l n'avait jamais existe. Savez-vous pourquoi vous devez vous conduire ainsi?...Vous voulez 24. Ibid.,p.106. 25. TbTcL ,p.329. 26. WH.,pp. 114-115. -55- dominer le monde, n'est-ce pas? i l faut commencer par o b i i r au monde et le bien e'tudier.. .Or, le monde, l a socie'td, les hommes pr i s dans leur ensemble, sont f a t a l i s t e s : i l s adorent 1 1 eve'nement... Aujourd' hui... le succes est l a raison supreme de toutes les actions, quelles qu'elles soient. Le f a i t n'est done plus r i e n en lui-m^me, i l est tout entier dans l'ide'e que les autres s'en forment... Ayez de beaux dehors! cachez l'envers de votre v i e , et presentez un endroit tr&s b r i l l a n t . . . Les grands commettent presque autant de la^chete's que les miserables; mais i l s les commettent dans 1'ombre et font parade de leur vertus: i l s restent grands. Les p e t i t s deploient leurs vertus dans l 1ombre, i l s exposent leurs miseres au grand jour: i l s sont mejprise's... Que devez-vous done mettre dans cette b e l l e t&te? ... Uniquement que v o i c i : Se donner un but e'elatant et cacher ses moyens d'arriver, tout en cachant sa marche,..Soyez homme, soyez chasseur, mettez- vous a l ' a f f u t , embusquez-vous dans le monde par i s i e n , attendez une proie et un hasard, ne menagez n i votre personne, n i ce qu'on appelle l a dignit£; car nous ob^issons tous a quelque chose, a un v i c e , it une necessit^; mais observez l a l o i supreme! le secret."27. One either succeeds by an "e'clat de ge'nie" or by the s k i l l of corruption. One must enter the human masses l i k e a'cannon- b a l l or s l i p i n l i k e the plague. "L'honnete' ne sert a rien."28. Vautrin's philosophical t r e a t i s e as expounded to Rastignac gives us opportunity to see how Balzac might have conceived of revolt i n i t s darkest and s t e a l t h i e s t form. The author's f r u s t r a t i o n and d i s l i k e of c e r t a i n s o c i a l elements are re- vealed herein. Vautrin seems to echo some of Balzac's own fulminations against Paris, a mud p i t of which he says, with heavy irony:"Ceux qui s'y crottent en vbiture sont d'honnetes gens, ceux qui s'y crottent a pied sont des fripons." 27. Balzac, I l l u s i o n s perdues pp. 591-596. 28. Goriot,p.111. 29. Ibid.,p.62. -56- jE£ t h i s i s true, then the only law i s force, the law of the jungle, where I l l i n o i s , Hurons or Mohicans know that the supreme rule i s to be abler and stronger than the r e s t . In the following chapter a more detailed examination of Vautrin 1s l i a i s o n s with extensions of himself w i l l take place. In the meantime, l e t us conclude by summarizing the intimate bond between authoE and creation as evidenced i n t h i s chap- ter . Balzac and Vautrin I t appears to be self-evident that any wri t e r can best depict those individuals into whose character he has the clearest i n s i g h t . One's understanding goes further when one i s on f a m i l i a r ground and one understands better the person whose ideas resemble one's own; " I I n'y a point de roman sans une certaine modestie du romancier, sans un ce r t a i n Iffacement, sans une certaine i d e n t i f i c a t i o n du romancier avec son personnage. Cette i d e n t i f i c a t i o n , l e romancier *a these en est incapable. Tandis que, chez Balzac, e l l e est constante. La these est volontaire. se mele au f l u x cre'ateur exactement comme les r&ves, les souvenirs, les nostalgies dont tous les romanciers nourissent leurs personnages. Je ne cro i s pas au romancier catholique n i d ' a i l l e u r s , au romancier comm- uniste. En ce sens que j'imagine mal un romancier v e r i t a b l e se disant:"js vais e c r i r e un;roman catholique ou communiste," s i cette f o i , cette doctrine sont pour l u i ce pain des anges dont i l se nourrit chaque lour, i l ne pourra pas f a i r e que son roman n a i t pas une certaine couleur. A i n s i de l a conception Chez Balzac, -57- du monde chez Balzac. E l l e est en l u i , e l l e s'est f a i t c h a i r . " 30 If t h i s i s true, the vividness of Balzac's a n t i - s o c i a l character i s then the r e s u l t of his understanding of Vautrin and of Vautrin's position i n society. Lacking great wealth and noble b i r t h , Balzac could never hope to a t t a i n a high rank i n a r i s t o c r a t i c c i r c l e s . Moreover, he was corpulent, talked too much i n a loud voice and had the mannerisms of a bourgeois of peasant o r i g i n . I t i s probable that at times Balzac entertained thoughts of revolt that he h e a l t h i l y channeled into his l i t e r a t u r e , lb. Thus, i n a sense, Vautrin, along with Hulot, Gobseck, Bridau, Maxime de T r a i l l e s and others, served as a form of release to Balzac's own feelings of r e v o l t . Along with Samuel Rogers, we too can perhaps "see projected i n him(Vautrin) his creat- 31 or's suppressed revolt against society." However, our i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of Vautrin's ro l e i n the Come'die humaine would be incomplete i f we saw him merely as a mouthpiece for Balzac's p o l i t i c a l and s o c i a l ideas —even though he performs t h i s function quite often. He i s unlike the d e v i l i n Souil^'s Memoires du diable(1836- 1838), who i s "not an end i n himself; he i s a means to an end. He i s l i t t l e more than a l i t e r a r y device, a vehicle for the s o c i a l s a t i r e with which f o u r - f i f t h s of the book i s 30. Marceau, op cit.,pp.242-244. 31. Balzac and the Novel (Madison:University of Wisconsin Press,^ lL9Ml, p. 11/. -58- 32 taken up." 'Vautrin i s an end i n himself, as well as being the vehicle for some of Balzac's more r a d i c a l ideas on soc- i e t y and i s therefore a f u l l e r and more r i c h l y developed character. He has his own l i f e and history. Vautrin the Anti-Hero The genius of Balzac manifests i t s e l f i n the l i f e - l i k e portrayal of his characters and i n the heroic defiance which they at times show society. An unforgettable example of t h i s defiance i s the extraordinary gesture of Rastignac's shaking his f i s t at the c i t y of Paris, which reminds us of the nostalgic confession which Balzac made to Victor Ratier, July 21, 1830: " Oh! mener une vie de mohican! courir sur les a i r aventuriers, les vies d'opposition!..." To be sure, Balzac does enjoy moralizing and making pos i t i v e declarations of pr i n c i p l e s as, for example, we can see i n th i s passage from the Avant-Propos of La Come'die humaine: " L'homme n'est n i bon n i merchant, i l na'lrt avec des i n s t i n c t s et des aptitudes; l a socie't£, l o i n de l a depraver, comme l ' a p pre*tendu Jean-Jacques Rousseau, le perfectionne le rend meilleur; mais l'inte're vt developpe alors €normement ses penchants mauvais. '34 But can't we perhaps sense the novelists delight at having 32. Harold March, Fr/deric Souilg(New Haven:Yale University Press, l>9p̂ l)i,75pp76 0175^176^ • v. 33. P r i o u l t , pp.376-377. 34. Balzac, Avant-Propos to La Comedie humaine, i n Oeuvrgs completes (Paris:Conard,1912), VoU-,xxx. ; ! -59- created i n Vautrin "un homme moins lache que les autres, et qui proteste contre les profondes deceptions du contrat 35 so c i a l ? " And doesn't t h i s delight of the creator override mere moral considerations? Vautrin was taken from romantic antecedents and ca r e f u l l y developed by Balzac. As a creation of fantasy springing from the Gothic novel, the romantic rebel, and the h e r o - v i l l a i n , Vautrin matured by means of Balzac's ob- servations and experiences into a r e a l i s t i c character; how- ever, Balzac intended t h i s great creation to be even more than that. He wanted him to be a symbol of the s o c i a l cor- ruption of the age. What better way to convince his read- ers of the deplorable state than by creating a character with whom they could sympathize and whose re v o l t takes on heroic proportions ? At the very l e a s t , Vautrin served as an outlet for many of Balzac's more r a d i c a l ideas on p o l i t i c s , society and morals. Since Vautrin was c l e a r l y and repeatedly l a b e l l e d "bad" by his creator, Balzac probably f e l t safe i n giving vent through him to many of his own pent-up emotions. Guyon indicates that Balzac practised "condemning" his immoral characters as early as Le Corrupteur where, i n a footnote, he seems to warn his readers against pernicious ideas put fo r t h by the "vicieux Edouard". Guyon adds: 35j Bardeche, op.cit.,p. 338. -60- " Mais i l est piquant de comparer cette note aux prefaces-plaidoyers que le romancier r^digera plus tard, en reponse a 1'accusation "d'immoralite", lancle contre son oeuvre. Dans les deux cas, i l use deŝ me*mes arguments, dans les deux cas sa s i n c e r i t e nous paralt tres suspecte. II n'approuvera les actions du forcat Vautrin, mais i l les admire en ar a r t i s t e et M philosophie qu'expriment ses h£ros s'apparente s i Itrangement a l a sienne propre, les discours q u ' i l place dans leur bouche ont un accent de conviction s i pass- ionne'e que le moins qu'on puisse dire est qu ' i l s expriment une des tentations majeures de son e s p r i t . " 36. Balzac f e l t himself to be above the ordinary run of men because of his genius and he f e l t superior people were exempt from the ordinary system of laws and moral con- duct, whereas, t h i s manifested i t s e l f i n Balzac's own l i f e , c h i e f l y i n his evasion of duty i n the National Guard, (and his imprisonment!), Vautrin was free to overlook any and a l l laws and customs and to speak with f i r e of the i n j u s t i c e s of society. Balzac attributed many crimes to his hero i n order-.: to heighten the feeli n g of mystery and power surrounding him. In doing t h i s he accomplished a double purpose for he also made i t easy for the reader to sympathize with Vau£ t r i n . This may properly be considered a part of Balzac's l i t e r a r y craftsmanship i n portraying the moral side of Vautrin's character. Though Vautrin speaks much of crime and much i s hinted about his criminal a c t i v i t i e s , Balzac -61- purposely gives very l i t t l e s p e c i f i c information about them. His comments on Vautrin vary according to the f e e l i n g he wishes to produce at a given moment and i t seems to matter l i t t l e that the comments are diametrically opposed. Vautrin "s'e'tait i n t e r d i t de jamais commettre un assasinat par l u i - irieme." " But i n another s i t u a t i o n he i s a man "qui t u a i t 38 comme un ouvrier b o i t . " In the l i g h t of such contradic- t i o n , one must resort to an actual count and evaluation of the convict's crimes. Vautrin was innocent of the forgery for whigh he was imprisoned o r i g i n a l l y . He instigated T a i l l e f e r ' s death i n Le P^re Goriot,but through such remote means that the reader i s scarcely offended, especially since i t seems to be ri g h t i n g a wrong done to the sympathetic young heroine. Balzac's system of expiation i s at work here too. O r i g i n a l l y named Mauricey, the robber and murderer i n L'Auberge rouge was renamed T a i l l e f e r and became the father of V i c t o r i n e . In Balzacss mind, the death of T a i l l e f e r j u n i o r , i s j u s t i f i e d by the fact that his father's wealth was i l l - g o t t e n . The son, furthermore, never appears i n the novel and i s unknown to,the reader. Vautrin's next crime concerns the r e a l Carlos Herrera. But Balzac nowhere says e x p l i c i t l y that Vautrin k i l l e d him and the whole a f f a i r has the flavour of the mandarin epicode i n Goriot. The read- er i s w i l l i n g to s a c r i f i c e an unknown personnage for the pleasure of seeing Vautrin succeed i n his manoeuvre. He i s d i r e c t l y responsible for the death of Contenson, whom he 3 7, Bal'zacf S.p lendeur sfcp,. I'7j6qt ens on was thr =•-.;..-,r:t -. .-. - '. 38. Ibid., p.329. -62- toppled off a roof. But Contenson was threatening our hero's well-being and was furthermore a spy and a stool-pigeon -- an altogether unsavoury character whose death i s not l i k e - l y to weigh on one;s conscience. He instigates Peyrade's death, but Peyrade too represents "the enemy" and therefore i s r i g h t l y done i n . The spy's character i s revealed and his daughter's fate prepared for and somehow,ironically j u s t i f i e d when Peyrade curses Baron Nucingen:" Sacre* baron! tu sauras de quel bois je me chauffe, en trouvant un matin ta f i l l e deshonoree...Mais a i m e - t - i l sa f i l l e ? " As for Lydie Peyrade, who "ressemblait a ces anges plus mystiques que re'els," Guyon's words i n connection with the fate of Auguste de Malincourt at the hands of the Treize might, with only s l i g h t a l t e r a t i o n , be applied to her case: " ...mais ce jeune Ito u r d i nous est i n d i f f e r e n t . La v e r i t a b l e int£r£t du re^cit est a i l l e u r s : dans l a c r i s e grave qui delate au sein d'un manage jusque-la parfaitement heureux."40 Vautrin writes Esther's w i l l a f t e r her suicide. But t h i s i s done i n Lucien 1s i n t e r e s t and Vautrin has someone else do the actual forgery. This i s the complete record of Vautrin's reported crimes, spread out over three novels of which two are ex- ceptionally long. Through t h i s s k i l l f u l t r i c k e r y , as w e l l as through a curious effect of juxtaposition w e l l formulated 39. Balzac, Splendeurs p.192. 40. Guyon, p.560. -63- by Le Breton, Balzac succeeds i n maintaining,(not dimin- uishing) the favourable impression he wants Vautrin to leave. Le Breton says of the convict hero, 11 II repr^sente l a corruption effronte'e, c e l l e qui s avoue, en face de l 1 a u t r e , c e l l e qui se cache; et t e l est le roman de Balzac qu'en ef f e t Vautrin l e revolt!*, Vautrin l e bandit, semble le personnage sympathique au m i l i e u de tant de bourgeois ou de mondains corrompus. II joue franc jeu." 41 So we see by a careful juxtaposition of values, and by playing down his crimes, Vautrin 1s dramatic stand i n the face of oppression wins our admiration. In Goriot for ex- ample, even when the horror of Vautrin's crimes was reveal- ed, most of the convives of the Maison Vauquer sympathized with him. Madame Vauquer herself had become attached to Vautrin to the extent that, a f t e r his a r r e s t , she forced the two persons who had betrayed him, to leave her boarding house. They had aided i n carrying out s o c i a l " j u s t i c e " , yet nearly a l l those who knew Vautrin and the conditions under which he had been arrested would have preferred to see punished his betrayers. However, not everyone condones Vautrin's r e v o l t ; Brunetiere says of Balzac that: "dans son oeuvre, l e crime ou l e vice ne sont pas assez souvent punis, n i l a vertu suffisament re"compensee." Nevertheless, despite Brunetiere's view, the roman- 41. Andre Le Breton, Balzac, 1'homme et 1'oeuvre(Paris:Boivin 42. Brunetilre,, W. P2*2(J-2*21. -64- t i c idea of the superior i n d i v i d u a l struggling alone against society i s w e l l represented by Vautrin. When the odds are great, but one i s strong and lucky enough to win, i s i t not inspiring? The "lone-wolf" concept appeals to the human mind. The a n t i - s o c i a l characters i n Balzac's novels were . acutely aware of the d i s t r e s s f u l s o c i a l conditions. I t appeared r i d i c u l o u s to them to accept t h i s harsh fate. With- out s u f f i c i e n t c a p i t a l to launch themselves into an honest career, and considering i t absolutely necessary to succeed, they found the means to acquire wealth i n the only way available to them. Their crimes were often great but some- times they were of such impressive boMriess that they i n - spired admiration and awe. The shrewd i n d i v i d u a l who, with questionable and ruthless t a c t i c s , amasses a large fortune, i s often admired grudgingly. People give way under the impact of the force of genius. They hate i t and t r y to con- demn i t because i t i s s e l f i s h but i n time, i f i t p e r s i s t s , they are obliged to recognize i t . They worship i t because they have not been able to deny or destroy i t . Nothing i s quite as acceptable as success. Not only the success of, Vautrin's r e v o l t , but also something basic to human nature can help us define his a t t r a c t i o n . As we see i n t h i s quot- ati o n from Splendeurs et miseres des courtisanes , t h i s uni- versal a t t r a c t i o n can be well described i n terms which evoke -65- Baudelaire, Balzac's contemporary and admirer: "C'est l a plante veneneuse aux riches couleurs qui fascine 1'enfant dans les bois. C'est l a poesie du mal."^ Conclusion On many levels of society i n La Comedie humaine one sees characters i n a state of re v o l t . I t would be easy to name other examples of revolt i n the Comedie humaine, but as Le Breton has written, "Vautrin i s his masterpiece and his greatest incarnation or per s o n i f i c a t i o n of r e v o l t . " ^ Although he can control i t , C o l l i n cannot rub out love from hi s l i f e . To be sure, where t h e r e i i s love, there i s natural weakness, and the fascinating enigma of the char* acter l i e s i n the paradox that Vautrin, the indomitable s p i r i t (of r e v o l t ) , cannot e x i s t f u l l y without the human f r a i l t y of C o l l i n . He forms a part of Balzac's ggand system of dynamics and magnetics where everything i s aspiration and res p i r a t i o n , a t t r a c t i o n and repulsion. The following chaps ter i l l u s t r a t e s the dua l i t y of t h i s love fierce within Vautrin that brings about hi s ultimate downfall. The neglect of his motivating force, the loosening of his i r o n w i l l and the weakening of his power over his pawn, a l l contribute to the disi n t e g r a t i o n of a supposedly i n f a l l i b l e anarchist. 43. TSpl-endeursl :p-; • 500. p c-C0. 44. Le Breton, p.246. -66- CHAPTER FOUR: PATERNAL OR HOMOSEXUAL? Introduction Given his mastery over others and his determination and i n t e l l i g e n c e , why does Vautrin f a i l i n his revolt? The controlled emotions, the flawless disguises, the untrace- able past deeds, a l l these elements of his arsenal and more are f i n a l l y neutralized with disastrous r e s u l t s . In t h i s chapter, we s h a l l investigate Vautrin's need for love and the v u l n e r a b i l i t y of his p a r t i c u l a r amorous desires. Per- haps i n view of t h i s chink i n his otherwise impenetrable armour, we s h a l l f i n d that his ultimate downfall i s ines- capable. To seek the causes of Vautrin's human f r a i l t y , we s h a l l begin with a look at Balzac's views on women and powerful men and then study Vautrin's need for love and the choices before him. The conclusion of th i s chapter w i l l / analyse Vautrin's breakdown, i t s causes and ef f e c t s . Warnings by Balzac Exemplified by Vautrin Balzac held some strong views on the impossibil- i t y of mixing business with pleasure i f one was t r u l y am- bi t i o u s . Power i s desired by many, yet few obtain i t . The reason, i n Balzac's view i s that the energies i t demands are often diverted to the opposite sex. He who desires power must necessarily r i d himself of women. Balzac ob- -67- served that the lu s t for power was frequently dissipated by love's capriciousness, He^noticgd that the straight and up- ward mobility of power was constantly warped by the period- i c invasion of desire. Vautrin served to i l l u s t r a t e t h i s th theory. In Vautrin's l i f e there i s no place for female love. This i s the secret of his t i t a n i c power and, as we s h a l l see, the entrance of love into his l i f e w i l l be the cause of his downfall. Vautrin has only contempt for the weak ones who allow t h e i r ambitions to be thwarted by love, who forgo power for the favours of a woman: " Les v o i l a done, ces gens qui de'eident de nos destine'es et de c e l l e s de nos peuples!... Un soupir pouss€ a travers par une feme l i e leur retourne 1'intelligence comme un gant! I l s perdent l a t£te pour une oei l l a d e ! Une jupe mise un peu plus haut, un peu plus bas, et i l s courent par tout Paris, au desespoir. Les fantaisies d'une femme re'agissent sur tout l'6feat. Oh! combien de force n'acqu- i e r t pas un homme quand i l est soustrait comme moi "a cette tyrannie d'enfant, a ces probites renversees par l a passion, a. ces mechane'ete's candides, a ces ruses de sauvage! La femme, avec son genie de bourreau, ses t talents pour l a torture, est, et sera tou- jour s l a per.te de 1'homme."1 Thus the anti-feminism that Balzac personnified i n Vautrin had a double significance. F i r s t l y , i t was a reaction against the ec s t a t i c c u l t of the period for women, .arida3sec?* 1. g'plendeu£s;lp̂ d&2-9.'S p„S29. -68- ondly, i t expressed the basic formula that ruled the world of Balzac: he who desires power with a l l his being must f i r s t renounce love. But can t h i s d r a s t i c resolution be sustained by man? Would i t not destroy his very being? " L'homme a l'horreur de l a solitude... l a premiere pense'e de l'homme, q u ' i l s o i t lejpreux ou format, imfitme ou ma lade, est d 1 avoir un complice de sa destined. A s a t i s f a i r e ce sentiment, qui est l a v i e m£me, i l emploie toutes ses forces, toute sa puissance, l a verve de sa vie Sans ce ddsir souverain, Satan a u r a i t - i l pu trouver ses compagnons?"2 Vautrin recognizes that not even he can escape t h i s law. Knowing Vautrin 1s bias against entanglements with women, l e t us turn to an obvious a l t e r n a t i v e : homosexual love. I t would have been very d i f f i c u l t for Balzac to portray homosexuality frankly and openly. Early nineteenth century standards of taste did not allow too v i v i d a por- t r a y a l of sexuality i n general and were even more prudish where sexual aberrations were concerned. Balzac therefore makes no overly e x p l i c i t portrayal of homosexuality and he was care f u l to assign whatever abnormality existed to a con vict,not only because of the convicts s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n out- side the bounds of r e s p e c t a b i l i t y , but also because of the possible perversion fostered by the nature of l i f e w ithin the prison walls. -69- There are hints or allusi o n s to the taboo i n Ferr- agus, Sarrasine, Une passion dans l e desert,in the strange rel a t i o n s h i p between Paquita Valdes and Euphemia P o r r a b e r r i l i n La F i l l e aux yeux d'or and i n the fond friendship be- tween Lisbeth and Madame Marneffe i n La Cousine Bette. Howra ever, i n two instances that Vautrin himself suggests, there i s another possible source of t h i s aspect of his character. Those two instances are recorded below. In Le P£re Goriot, when Vautrin i s try i n g to per- suade Rastignac to marry Victorine T a i l l e f e r , he exclaims: " Eh bien! pour moi qui a i bien creusl l a v i e , i l n'existe qu'un seul sentiment r e e l , une amitie' d'homme a homme. Pierre et J a f f i e r , voiLa ma passion. Je sais Venise sauvee par coeur."3 And as Carlos Herrera i n I l l u s i o n s perdues, when he f i r s t meets Lucien de Rubempre, Vautrin asks him: "EEnfant.. .as-tu medite- l a Venise sauvde d' d'Otway? As-tu compris cette a m i t i l pro#o fonde d'homme a homme, qui l i e Pierre \ J a f f i e r , qui f a i t pour eux d'une femme une bagatelle et qui change entre eux tous les termes sociaux?V 4 Venise sauvee to which Vautrin refers i s the 1682 drama Ven- ice Preserved or a Plot Discovered by Thomas Otway based on La Conjuration des Espagnols contre Venise,(1618), by St-R€al. Venice Preserved i s the story of J a f f i e r , a Venetian noble- 3., §'orioiit̂  ig«or35.55:» p0".55, 4. BMtu,sd:o,nsI?£̂ î i::.- ~,; 5C1 0 -70- man who has joined a plot against the Senate. P r i u l i , a senator and J a f f i e r ' s father-in-law, has refused to help J a f f i e r i n the time of need. Pierre, a s o l d i e r , has per- suaded J a f f i e r to avenge himself against the Senate of Venice, which has control of the c i t y and i s using i t s power for i t s own ends. As proof of his l o y a l t y to the con- spiracy, J a f f i e r l e f t Belvidera, his wife, with Renault, the leader of the group. Insulted by Renault, Belvidera f l e d to J a f f i e r who confided the plot to her. She begged h him to save her father* s l i f e by informing the Senate of the plans. J a f f i e r promised to do so i f he could be assured that a l l his friends would go free. The Senate agreed, but once the group was arrested, the Senate condemned the t h i r t y - three conspirators to death. Driven to despair by t h i s breach of promise on the part of the Senate, J a f f i e r was determined to free his friends even to the point of threat- ening Belvidera with her death unless her father pardoned them a l l . P r i u l i agreed to free them, but i t was too l a t e . On the s c a f f o l d , J a f f i e r i s reconciled with P i e r r e , who had accused him of being a t r a i t o r and a coward, stabbed Pierre and then committed suicide, thus freeing both of mem from the dishonourable death of a t r a i t o r to the State. When she heard that J a f f i e r was dead, Belvidera died of a broken heart. From Venice Preserved stems Vautrin's l i t e r a r y homo- -71- sexuality. Pierre ew%d J a f f i e r express not only a deep and eternal friendship, but also symbolize a revolt against soc- i e t y i n which the end j u s t i f i e s the means --one of Vautrin's own basic p r i n c i p l e s . Vautrin's Duality WhatmVajitrin seeks above a l l i n his friendships, i s a person capable of being his companion, with whom he can spend his l i f e : " Apprends c e c i , grave-le dans ta cerv e l l e encore s i molle? 1'homme a 1'horreurrde^la• solitude. Et de toutes les solitudes, l a ^ solitude morale est c e l l e qui e'prouve l e plus." The motivating force i n t h i s quest of friendship i s t h i s fear of solitude, t y p i c a l of most fathers. Vautrin wants and needs an accomplice. After Goriot, the entire portrayal of Vautrin i s tinged with sadness and his most exuberant outbursts against society and mankind can be interpreted i n terms of resentment against the very i s o l a t i o n and super i o r i t y of which he at other times boasts. His attachments are there- fore not to be reduced to merepperversions. Rather they re- veal a complex need. Balzac underlines the need to communicate with the chosen associate. Vautrin i s searching >f off r e f l e c t i o n s of himself: his proteges come from the same moral mould. Lucien 5. 5p 1 endeufSslp7.d.60/1 v p SOI. -72- and Eugene are both i n t e l l i g e n t young men, poor and ambit- ious. This i s a l l that i s necessary to a t t r a c t Vautrin. They share a t h i r s t for pleasure and power. When Rastignac returns to the Pension Vauquer enflamed with a desire to succeed i n society, Vautrin immediately recognizes t h e i r common bond. "Bravo! a i - i e d i t , v o i l a un g a i l l a r d qui me va!" Disguised as Carlos Herrera, he repeats the same thing to Lucien: "Savez-vous pourquoi je f a i s ce p e t i t discours d'histoire? C'est que je vous cr o i s une ambition demesure'e."^ In r e a l i t y , he seeks someone l i k e himself. Just as Grandet wanted a miserly daughter, so Vautrin wants his chosen son to be ambitious and unscrupulous. To ensure t h i s , he poses as a teacher before his protege's. No doubt his teachings are surprising. But one senses ihahim a sincere desire to benefit his student by his own experiences. Vautrin readies > his protege's for r e v o l t . In showing them the hidden aspects of society, he hopes to change them into beings who place themselves above society and established law. Corrupted, he seeks to corrupt. In p a r t i c u l a r , he succours young men un- dergoing a moral c r i s i s for to. him they represent "une b e l l e proie pour le diable" ' Vautrin's search for friendship drives him to seek alternatives„to women. That Vautrin despises women and be- 6. )I-1lu-sdonslpuvs 59.1f? pc-591., 7. Ebrioitg p£cT53t p. 153, -73- lieves i n t h e i r beauty as a mask for man's destruction i s undeniable. A woman i s an usurer who would disembowel her own mother, a t i g e r who looks into mirrors, an i n f e r i o r being who i s motivated by animal i n s t i n c t . Vautrin, on the contrary, dominates his organs as a r e s u l t of the bond between eff e c t and cause; his philosophy of the weaker sex i s occasioned by his physiology. Even i n the^here of love, Vautrin i s outside the general laws of sexuality. "Apprenez un secret: i l n'aime pas les femmes." The ambiguity surrounding his gender i s heightened by subtle inferences. For example, above the Vauquer door, one reads a d r o l l i n s c r i p t i o n : "Pension bour- geoise des deux sexes et autres."^ "Et autres" points to d i l - apidated beings, "mollusques" or larvae of the human species l i k e Mademoiselle Michonneau or Monsieur. Poiret. But i t also points to Vautrin i n three respects: the father-mother ad- mixture, the sexlessness of a f a l l e n angel, and the homo- sexual. A closer look at the relationships that Vautrin de- velops i n the t r i l o g y w i l l c l a r i f y which of these categories Vautrin belongs to. The f i r s t of Vautrin's attachments i s traced back to a period spent i n prison where he joined up with a young hoodlum, Theodore C a l v i , whose feminine nickname was " l a b e l l e Madeleine". In slang, C a l v i was also known as Vautrin's "tante", a feminine noun that conjures up a mutual love and 8. 6§riot,p. 160. 9. I b i d . , p. 27. -74- a f f e c t i o n . Balzac feels i t necessary to explain the term as r e f e r r i n g to the t h i r d sex, leaving us i n no doubt as to t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . In Vautrin 1s second r e l a t i o n s h i p , the "coeur de bronze" brings as much devotion to Rastignac as he had to C a l v i . However, Rastignac refuses to understand Vautrin's advances, or at least turns a b l i n d eye. He wished neither tco explore "les motifs de l'amitie que l u i p o r t a i t cet homme extraordinaire, n i l'avenir d'une semblable union." Others however, had no d i f f i c u l t y i n perceiving Vautrin's intentions. A comment by Mademoiselle Michonneau, a f t e r Vaiitrin's arrest opens Eugine's eyes:" Monsieur [de Rastignacj soutient C o l l i n . . . , i l n'est pas d i f f i c i l e de savoir p o u r q u o i . F i n a l l y the truth dawns on Rastignac, who resolves to avoid any such en- tanglement. Vautrin's "regard vetiimeux j e t a une h o r r i b l e lumie're dans l'^me de Rastignac,"'^ who understood "toutes les p e r f i d i e s " i n i t . The end of I l l u s i o n s perdues brings us to Vautrin 1s f i n a l and most important attachmant, and leaves no doubt as to his intentions; Lucien states that he has "vendu sa v i e " arid i s nothing but " l a creature" of Herrera. Because Lucien occupies Vautrin's existence for such a long and intense period, l e t us look at t h e i r f i r s t encounter as an example of Vautrin's technique of a t t r a c t i n g and en- 10. Goriot p.116. 11. I b i d . , p.189. 12. IbTd"., p.189. -75- t i c i n g prospective "companions"./ The t h i r d prote'ge whom Carlos adopts i s Lucien Chardon, or Lucien de Rubempre, as he prefers to be c a l l e d . In 1822, begins the longest association i n Vautrin 1s career and the most f r u i t f u l i n events. Without going into d e t a i l s about Lucien 1s previous experiences i n the provinces and i n Paris, s u f f i c e i t to say that t h i s would-be poet was a vi c t i m of his own vanity. In Paris he got himself into such an unsavoury position that he was forced to beat a retreat to his home and family, thus putting himself d i r e c t l y on Carlos' route from Rochefort to Paris. Part of the l e t t e r he l e f t for his s i s t e r a f t e r upsetting her l i f e and before s l i n k - ing away into the night to drown himself, reveals Lucien's character. I t w i l l be seen that he isavready-made subject for Carlos to ex p l o i t . " 0 ma chere Eve, je me juge plus severement que qui que ce s o i t car je me condamne abso- lument et sans p i t i e pour moi-me*me. La l u t t e a Paris exige une force constante, et mon vouloi r ne va que par acc&s: ma cerv e l l e est intermittente. L'avenir m'effraye tant, que je ne veux pas de l'avenir, et le present m'est insupportable. J ' a i voulu vous r e v o i r , j'aurais mieux f a i t de m'expatrier a jamais. Mais 1'expatriation sans moyens d 1existence, s e r a i t une f o l i e et je ne l ' a j o u t e r a i pas a toutes les autres. La mort me semble pre'*" fArable a une vi e incomplete et, dans quelque pos i t i o n que je me suppose, mon excessive vanite" me f e r a i t commettre des s o t t i s e s . Certains etres sont comme des ze'ros, i l leur faut un c h i f f r e qui les precede, et leur n£ant acquiert alors une valeur de'culpe<. -76- Je ne puis a c q u l r i r de valeur que par un mariage avec une v o l e n t i f o r t e , impitoyable. Madame deeBargeton e t a i t bien ma femme, j ' a i manque" ma v i e en n1abandonnant pas Coralie pour e l l e . David et t o i vous pourriez e\re d'excellents p i l o t e s pour moi; mais vous n'£tes pas assez f o r t s pour dompter ma faiblesse qui se detobe en quelque sorte a l a domination, j'aime une v i e f a c i l e , sans ennuis; et, pour me d l - barrasser d'une contrariety, j e suis d'une l a c h e t i qui peut menmener tres l o i n . Je suis ni prince. J ' a i plus de dexte'rite' d'esprit q u ' i l ne faut pour parvenir, mais §e n'en a i que pendant un moment, et l e p r i x dans une carrie*re parcourue par tant d'ambitieux est a c e l u i qui n'en de'ploie que l e ne'c.essaire et qui s en trouve encore assez au bout de l a journe'e. Je f e r a i s l e mal comme je viens de le f a i r e i c i , avec les meilleures inten- tions du monde. II y a des homme s-cheWs, je ne suis peut-etre qu'un arbuste elegant et j ' a i l a pretention d'etre un c^dre. V o i l a mon b i l a n e c r i t . Ce disaccord entre mes moyens et mes de'sirs, ce de^faut d'e"qui- l i b r e annulera toujours mes efforts."13 The s i g n i f i c a n t passage, of course, i s that concerning the nature of c e r t a i n people who require domination by a strong- er personality i n order to amount to anything more than a cipher. What i s i n t e r e s t i n g i s the fact that at the end of Lucien's career, one of the "grandes dames" of Paris refers to his r e l a t i o n s h i p with C o l l i n as aamarriage, and here Lucien r e a l i z e s that his only hope l i e s i n a marriage not s p e c i f i c a l l y with a woman, but with a "volonte forte et impitoyable".''"^ Carlos i s indeed t h i s , and t h e i r r e l a t i o n - ship i s indeed a kind of marriage and l a s t s , i n f a c t , u n t i l death doth them part. 13.Illusioristpp. 581-582. 14. I b i d . , p.581. -77- After t h i s introduction, we are ready for Herrera. Were Balzac a less subtle author, C o l l i n would have appear- ed at t h i s moment, i n a clap of thunder to claim the hand of his "ame soeur". As i t i s , he only appears some three pages l a t e r i n his priestssrrobes. C o l l i n i s f i r s t struck by Lucien 1s personal beauty, for his poet's vanity has caused him to don his f i n e s t o u t f i t to commit suicide: " En entendant Lucien qui sauta de l a vigne sur l a route, l'inconnu se retourna, parut comme s a i s i de l a beaute" profondiment melancolique du poete, de son bouquet symboi lique et deesa mise elegante. Le voyageur ressemblait £l un chasseur qui trouve une j r proie longtemps et inutilement cherchee." After t a l k i n g for a while, and presumably weighing the q u a l i - f i c a t i o n s of not just C a l v i and the poet, but of a t h i r d can- didate for his attentions — f o r we must include Rastignac i n t h i s -- Vautrin chose Lucien. Beside the long separation from his Vauquer boarding-house acquaintance, a year during which his influence was not d i r e c t l y exercised, Eugene had shown himself to be too independant, moral and unpliable for C o l l i n ' s purpose. Despite Theodore's charms, because of Calvi's criminal nature C o l l i n could foresee i n the renewal of that association only a s t r i n g of crimes ending necessar- i l y on the sca f f o l d . To thi§; aging convict, the poet offered something new and very a t t r a c t i v e . "La v i e avec Lucien, gar^on pur de toute condamnation et qui ne se reprochent que des peccadilles, se l e v a i t d ' a i l l e u r s b e l l e et magnifique 15. I l l u s i o n s p. 584. -78- comme le s o l e i l d'une journe'e d'ete"." i b Rubempre' doesn't hesitate. He has no choice, or a at least very l i t t l e . Between suicide and adroit temptation, he chooses the easiest way and follows the path drawn by his strange mentor. His success i s stunning. In a few years, the former despairing poet i s on the point of marrying the wealthy and t i t l e d C lothilde ae Grandlieu. Everything breaks down at the l a s t minute, but one senses that, i n large meas- ure, Lucien's f i n a l catastrophe i s imposed by considerations of public taste; a f t e r a l l , the success of the Rubempre'- Herrera plot would have been too immoral for many readers of 1840. The d u a l i t y of Vautrin i s now made clear i n his re- lati o n s h i p with the poet. The Vautrin who wants his pro- tege' to be l i k e him and who uses his i n t e l l i g e n c e and power to slowly bring about t h i s transformation, acts very l i k e a father,"peu curieux de se replanter i c i par bouture"; the same man who denies himself physical paternity i s obses- sed by the desire to l i v e on. He wants to preserve his es-;: sence, not his f l e s h . As he says to Esther: " On me r i v e r a i t pour l e restant de mes jours a* mon ancienne chal'ne, i l me semble que j e pourrais y rester t r a n q u i l l e en me disant: i l est au b a l , i l est a l a cour.' Mon Itaie et ma pense'e triompheraient pendant que ma guenille s e r a i t livr£e aux argousins."17 I 16. Splendeurs p. 495. 17. Ibid., p.249. -79- It i s t r u l y his soul that Vautrin wishes to impart to his prot£g6s so that he might continue to l i v e beyond his own l i f e - s p a n ; Vautrin i s the f i r s t to emphasize the paternal aspect of h i s love. I r o n i c a l l y , he c a l l s himself "Papa Vaufe t r i n " , he smiles at Rubempre "d'un a i r pateraellement r a i l l e u r " , and i t i s with a "maternelle" s o l i c i t u d e that he takes Lucien 1s arm, at t h e i r f i r s t meeting. The abundance of such terms used to describe him underline t h i s undeniable aspect of his f e e l i n g . Speaking of Vautrin's drive toward moral paternity, Curtius says: " . . . i l f a i t passer de sa propre v i e dans c e l l e de ses creatures. A i n s i i l s'e'tend demesure'- ment. I n u t i l e de dire que ce double dyna- misme --creer une v i e nouvelle en faisant appel aux puissances de son e s p r i t et trans- fu,ser sa propre experience a des cre"atures nees de soi -- appartient a ce que Balzac ,g a l e plus profondement e'prouve' en lui-meme." Most s t r i k i n g i s the s i m i l a r i t y between his love for Eugene and for Lucien, and Goriot's love for his daughters. They conceive love i n the same way. Goriot l i v e s through his daughters because he has created them. This a b i l i t y to en- joy l i f e v i c a r i o u s l y i s basic to Vautrin. He t e l l s Lucien t; that man has a fear of being alone and that he must have an a l t e r ego: 18. Curtius, p. 159. -80- 11 J'aime a me devouer, j ' a i ce v i c e - l a . Je vi s par le devouement...Je veux aimer ma creature, l a fa^onner, l a p l t r i r a mon usage, a f i n de 1'aimer comme un p&re aime son enfant... je me re"jouirai de ses succes aupres des femmes, je d i r a i : — c e beau ieune homme, cfest moi! Ce marquis de Rubempre^, j e l ' a i cre*e et mis au monde aristo c r a t i q u e ; sa grandeur est mon oeuvre, i l se t a i t ou parle a" ma voix, i l me consulte en tout."19 Vautrin i s a s o c i a l outcast who can no longer (enter society nor2enjoy i t s pleasures. Lucien must taste them for him. "Je r o u l e r a i dans ton t i l l b u r y , mon garc^on." As Goriot l i v e d for and through his daughters,"Ma vie a moi est dans 20 mes deux f i l l e s " , so Vautrin l i v e d for and through Lucien. Vautrvin shared Lucien's l i f e which he created, and a l l that Lucien accomplished i n society, Vautrin accomplished. Lucien represents the l i f e that Carlos Herrera would have wanted: as a cynic, corrupt and cr i m i n a l , the soul o f t h i s s p i r i t u a l father i s reborn i n Lucien. He i s able to f u l f i l l a l l that was denied the other. Being young, handsome and famous, women adore him and he i s to marry into one of the most noble families i n France. Through him, Vautrin has been able to enter a world forever closed to himself. As Allemand notes: " I I £ Vautrin] n'a pas seulement l e ge"nie de l a corruption, i l s'incarne dans les e^res q u ' i l c h o i s i t , i l se les assimile. I I aime a jouer, mais ne s'int£resse qu'au grand jeu. Rastignac he'site a signer l e pacte que l u i propose ce demon: une circonstance f o r t u i t e l e sauvera. Lucien se l a i s s e en- t o r t i l l e r : i l ne sera plus de'sormais que l a cr'eature de Vautrin, sa chose; non pas 19. I l l u s i o n s p. 602. 20. Goriot p.130. -81- n'importe quelle chose, mais c e l l e qui l e i repre'sente en a l t e r i t e , c e l l e qui l u i manque pour e*tre tout a f a i t lui-m'eme. Vautrin se de'double. I I v i t par i n t e r p o s i t i o n de per- sonne, i l agira de me*me. II r e a l i s e r a h tracer vers Lucien les projets qui j u s q u ' i c i l u i e t a i e n t interdits."21 And so, the p a t e r n a l i s t i c leanings within a homosexual re- lati o n s h i p enable Vautrin to enjoy a two-fold love. Because of the essence of s e l f that he transmits to Lucien, he i s also able to 'lead a double l i f e . The Unmaking of Vautrin Lucien i s Vautrin's h e i r , having inherited Vautrin's nature. As an id e a l son, Lucien embodies a l l of Vautrin's dreams. "Je suis un grand poete. Mes poesies, je ne les 99 ecris pas: e l l e s consistent en actions." Vautrin, the man who spoke thus to Rastignac, has created through Lucien h i s most beautif u l poem. He has transformed a dream of himself into f l e s h and blood. Lucien i s the clay from which Vautrin t r i e s to mould a better s e l f . A l l of his hopes, desires, ambitions and love are i n s t i l l e d i n Lucien. Lucien i s his creation. Behind Vautrin's feelings for Lucien l i e s a w i l l to power which stops j u s t short of 1i'he divine. Vautrin confesses:" J ' a i appris a imiter l a 23 Providence." " Quand j ' a i iti p l r e , j ' a i compris Dieu," 21. Andre' Allemand, I l l u s i o n s (Paris: Ple'iade,l,9<50),p.lO28. 22. Goriot p. 112. 23. Ibid., p. 130.- -82- Goriot used to say. Vautrin feels capable of replacing God and creating his own son. The theme of creating i s always upon his l i p s . " Je vous a i pe^che; je vous a i rendu l a v i e , et vous m'appartenez comme l a creature est2^ au cr^ateur... comme l e corps est a l'ltme!" The very notion of creating, a r e f l e c t i o n of tremendous pride, conveys a passionate desire fpr power: "J'aime l e pouvoir 25 pour l e pouvoir,moi!" As Lucien i s an image of Vautrin, so i t i s a re l a t i o n s h i p between creator and creature, s i m i l a r to that between man and God, as we l l as the two other aspects of the re l a t i o n s h i p previosly discussed. " Je vous maintiendrai, moi, d'une main puiss- ante, dans l a voie du pouvoir...et vous b r i l l - erez, vous paraderez, pendant que, courbe dans l a boue des fondations, j assumerai l e b r i l l a n t e d i f i c e de votre fortune."26 The very day that t h i s i r o n w i l l deserts him, Lu- cien dies as i f only the presence of Vautrin at his side can make him go on l i v i n g . Separated for forty-eight hours, he commits suicide. After a i l , Vautrin i s not God. He i s a superman, but his w i l l , as powerful as i t i s , cannot stand i n the face of fate. S i m i l a r l y , i n l i v i n g through Lucien, Vaut t r i n i s also vulnerable through him.. In signing the demonic pact, Lucien receives from Vautrin the strength of purpose that he lacks and, i n exchange,fendows Vautrin with a r e f l e c - t i o n of his human side. Each discovers i n the other a com- 24. Oil-Ms ions p i 597. 25. i b i d . , p. 598. 26. P. 597.:r. -83- plement of r e a l i t y that i s indispensable to his own personal f u l f i l l m e n t . Accordingly, when Vautrin learns of Lucien's , suicide, he collapses, crumbles and i s completely overwhel- med. The strength, the energy, the l i f e that he unceasing- l y injected into the poet's soul, seeps from him f r u i t l e s s - l y . The death of Lucien not only staggers his being, i t deprives him, i n a very r e a l sense, of his reason for being£„ It i s the doctor who hastens to treat him who t e l l s C o l l i n that Lucien has hanged himself i n his c e l l . Jacques C o l l i n , qui se dressa sur ses pieds comme l e t i g r e sur ses patters, qui lanca sur l e docteur un regard brulant, comme 1 1'Eclair de l a foudre quand e l l e tombe; puis i l s 'affaissa sur son l i t de camp en disant: 'Oh! mon f i l s ! * — Pauvre homme! s'£cria l e midecin emu de ce t e r r i b l e e f f o r t de l a nature. En e f f e t , cette explosion fut suivie d'une s i complete fa i b l e s s e , que ces mots:'Oh! mon f i l s ! ' furent comme un murmure."27 However strong his emotion i s , Jacques C o l l i n does not for- get his disguise and i n s t i n c t i v e l y masks h i s reactions to f i t the gauge of his present i d e n t i t y . The idea that t h i s may have been a trap to unmask him apparently does not enter his mind. This shows another side of his character — a side whose existence may heretofore have been open to question but 27. Splendeurs p. 496. II Jamais t i g r e trouvant ses p e t i t s enleves n'a frappe les jungles de l'lnde d'un c r i -84- which i s now c l e a r l y revealed. M I S i vous avez des enfants, Messieurs', d i t Jacques C o l l i n , 'vous comprendEez mon imbe'cil- it£, j'y vois a peine c l a i r . . . C e coup est pour moi bien plus que l a mort,mais vous ne pouvez pas savoir ce que je dis...vous n'e'tes p£re, s i vous l'etes, que d'une mani£re...je suis 28 mere, aussi!...Je...je suis fou, je le sens." He spends the night with Lucien's body, and i s found i n the morning kneeling beside the bed, clasping Lucien's cold hand and apparently praying. " En voyant cet homme, les porteurs s'arreterent un moment, car i l ressemblait a une de ces figures de pierre agenouille'e pour l'e'ternite sur les tombeaux du moyen ^ge, par le genie des t a i l l e u r s d'images. Ce faux pretre, aux yeux c l a i r s comme ceux des tigres et r a i d i par une immobility surnaturelle, imposa t e l l e - ment a ces gens, q u ' i l s l u i dirent avec dou- ceur de se lever. -- Pourquoi? demnanda-t-il timidement. Cet audacieux Trompe-la-Mort e t a i t devenu f a i b l e comme un enfant." 29 Conclusion Lucien's death marks an important stage i n Vautrin's l i f e . With his passing, Vautrin seems to lose a l l i n t e r e s t i n continuing to l i v e . His despair i s overwhelming. For Vautrin i s a lonely man and i t i s the loneliness and his un- successful attempts to overcome i t which lead to his undoing. The basic drive for companionship, for society, was too great to allow him to maintain his l o f t y detachment, essential to 28. Splendeurs p. 497. 29. I b i d . f p."498. -85- carrying out his project of revenge. As Corentin says, " . . . s i vous n'aviez pas eu ce p e t i t imbecile a de'fendre, vous nous auriez r o u s s ^ s , " ^ One feels that i t i s , paradoxical- l y , with an immense sense of l i b e r a t i o n , that Vautrin f i n a l - l y abandons his struggle against society and submits to i t s laws, indeed, becomes an agent for t h e i r reinforcement. I t i s paradoxical, but understandable, By giving up e g o t i s t i c individualism, he sheds a l l the responsability for his deeds. Although Vautrin 1s aim i n his criminal a c t i v i t i e s i s not so l o f t y as S c h i l l e r ' s Moor, nor i s his renunciation so flam- boyantly expressed, he could have understood without d i f f i - c u l t y K arl Moor's awakening to the fact that his p o s i t i o n outside of society was untenable: " Ah! miserable fou, qui me suis imagine" per- fectionner l e monde par le crime, et r ^ t a b l i r les l o i s par l a licence! J'appelais cela l a vengeance et l e bon droit...Je pritendais, o Providence! rendre l e f i l a ton glaive ^mousse,, et reparer ta p a r t i a l i t e . Mais... •6 puerile vanite*!.. .maintenant me v o i c i au terme d'une vie abominable, et je reconnais avec des grincements de dents, que deux hommes t e l s que moi renverseraient tout 1'Edifice du monde moral."31 Vautrin becomes but a shadow of his former s e l f . He aban- dons his most obsessive ambition; Trompe-laMojixt:, the outlaw, the soul of satanic r e v o l t , joins ranksawatth society. 30. Ibid., p. 612. 31. Frederic S c h i l l e r , Les Brigands (New York: Unger, 1961),p.58. -86- CHAPTER FIVE: TEE MASTER'S TOUCH Introduction No matter how impartial an a r t i s t may tr y to be, he cannot create realism without deception. This deception w i l l be accepted, however, i f i t manages, by suggesting i n t e n s i t y and immediateness, to inte r e s t us d i r e c t l y and v i v i d l y i n the event depicted. Let us see to what extent t h i s view of r e a l - ism i s relevant to the creation of Vautrin; and to what ex- tent r e a l i t y has been deformed; the extent to which Vautrin i s removed from his creator; how much more intense he i s as a re s u l t of Balzac's s k i l l i n reproducing r e a l i t y . Balzac's Use of Realism There are several factors from Balzac's own person- a l i t y which appear i n Vautrin's character, contributing to the impression of r e a l i t y and l i f e . As Wilson says, i n dis t i l l e d s t y l e , " The r e a l elements, of course, of any work of f i c t i o n , are the elements of the author's personality: his imagination embodies i n the images of characters, situations and scenes the fundamental c o n f l i c t s of his nature or the cycle of phases through which i t habitu- a l l y passes. His personnages are personified cations of the author's various impulses and emotions: and the r e l a t i o n s between them i n his s tories are r e a l l y the rela t i o n s between these." 1 1. Edmund Wilson, Axel's Castle (New York: Scribner, 1950), p.176. -87- 2 Though i n some cases Balzac may have, as he said, succeeded i n becoming his character, i t seems f a i r l y obvious that i n t h i s case the character became Balzac. B i l l y indicates a whole unexplored and perhaps unexplorable, aspect of Balzac's work, " S u r l a v i e de Balzac t e l l e qu'elle apparalt dans ses ouvrages, i l y aurait un gros l i v r e a e c r i r e . Balzac, qui passe pour le romancier l e plus transcendant a son oeuvre, s i l'on ose employer le langage des the*ologiens, y est peut-etre le plus immanent. Dans chaque personnage, dans chaque Episode de l a Comedie humaine, un examen approfondi dicele sa pr£- sence. Madame Bovary, c'est moi, d i s a i t Flaubert 1'impassible. Balzac n'est pas impassible, i l i n t e r v i e n t visiblement dans ses remits, m mais combien plus souvent encore invisiblement? Combien plus souvent i l se peint meme sans l e vouloir? 3 Thus, by l i v i n g i n his work and through i t , Balzac i s able to endow Vautrin with a p a r t i c u l a r l y l i f e - l i k e appearance. Perhaps the most s t r i k i n g device by which Vautrin i s made to l i v e i s so a t y p i c a l of Balzac's method that i t appears to be accidental. We refer to the imprecise manner i n which Vautrin i s descibed ph y s i c a l l y . TKis technique has been con- sidered e a r l i e r i n t h i s essay as a means of creating an " a i r of mystery" v e i l i n g both the character and his creator. Grant- ed, Balzac was l i k e l y aware of at least t h i s much of what he was doing. Speaking of settings more than of people, Balzac wrote i n an unpublished Avertissement for Le Dernier Chouan(1828) 2. Balzac, Oeuvres completes (Conard,1940),xl,289. 3. B i l l y , p. 304. -88- " . . . j e n'ai pas eu peu si combattre dans mon penchant a ne q u i t t e r un tableau qu'apres avoir longtemps tourn^ autour, 1'avoir le'che en tous sens,... Mors les imaginations ardentes me reprocheront de ne leur r i e n l a i - sser a deviner; mais cette faute...appartient peut-etre a. notre l i t t e r a t u r e moderne; e l l e ^ n'a plus que l'immense verite' des d e t a i l s ; . . . Judging from the rest of his work, Balzac didn't put up much of a struggle against t h i s penchant* There are enumerable lines i l l u s t a t i n g his unwillingness to leave a great deal toe the reader's imaginative fa c u l t y . This proved i r r i t a t i n g to Le Breton, who comments a c i d l y on Beatrix: " Ces p o r t r a i t s sont v r a i s , l i s sont puissants, i l s sont ce q u ' i l y a de meilleur ou meme tout ce q u ' i l y a de bon dans Beatrix;mais quel lecteur a l a patience de les l i r e tous? I I y en a trop, et dans chacun d'eux i l y a trop de d e t a i l s , trop de minuties, l e seul p o r t r a i t physique de Camille Maupin remplit plusieurs pages; vingt-cinq lignes pour ses yeux, quinze pour son nez, autant pour sa ^ bouche, pour son menton, pour ses o r e i l l e s . . . Though aware of the dangers connected with scenic des- c r i p t i o n , Balzac was apparently unaware that a vague sugges- t i o n of physiological t r a i t s allows the reader to use his own imagination, i n the s t r i c t sense of the word. Yet procuring the reader's p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the v i s u a l i z a t i o n of a charac- ter i s one of the most important elements i n producing a fee l i n g of authenticity and realism. Bard^che approaches t h i s idea when he speaks of the "other" existence of Balzac's 4. Spoelberch de Lovenjoul, Histoire des oeuvres de Honore" de-Balzac asscited by Bardeche, p. ~2~2~?T. ~ 5. Le Breton, p.126. -89- characters, . " . " Car, chaque personnage dans 1'oeuvre de Balzac est vu deux f o i s , dans le roman qui l u i est consacre d'abord, et l a i l apparait comme tous personnages de roman, et dans l a perspective de l a Come'die humaine, et cette v i s i o n peut £tre sinon d i f f e r e n t e , du moins bien plus complete et bien plus profonde. ...alors, quel- que part, dans un espace de l a Comedie humaine qui ne porte point de t i t r e et qui en est l a contre'e l a plus pre'cieuse, se leve un immate'riel portrait...que n i l'une ni-1'autre des oeuvres de Balzac ne nous ont donne,..." 6 In considering Le Breton's comments regarding Gobseck Hulot and Claes, one should remember that Vautrin was inten- ded as a secondary figure, though he emerged as a central f i ure. " Mais i l s ne sont pas des etres r e e l s . l i s sont beaucoup moins re'els, en tout cas, que les personnages de second plan que Balzac a f a i t apparaltre d e r r i ^ r e eux. Seuls, ceux- c i sont de "I'humanite" vivante. Dans Eugenie Grandet, l a grosse Nanon n'£tait-elle pas plus vraie que Grandet lui-meme? I I en est toujours a i n s i chez Balzac: l a viarite est bien moins dans le he'ros du l i v r e que dans les silhouettes ejpisodiques." 7 Jules Bertaut too, has distinguished between the p o r t r a i t s of the main and subordinate characters, while maintaining t l that both groups were treated by Balzac "avec l a rneme min- u t i e , avec le meW souci constant de copier le re'el." That he has had a reaction s i m i l a r to Le Breton's i s shown when he writes, " Seulement, lorsque les protagonistes ne d£- passent pas l a t a i l l e ordinaire de I'humanite', 6. Bardeche, Op.Cit., p.526. -90- lorsque 1'imagination du romancier n'inter- vient pas pour les gonfler, i l s paraissent d'autant plus v r a i s , d'une ve'rite^ photogra- phique, s i l'on peut d i r e . " 9 Having mentioned "ve'rite' photographique", Bertaut's next remark approaches contradiction, for he says, "C'est a i n s i que l e groupe des habitue's de l a table de Madame Vauquer forme un admirable ensemble aux t r a i t s precis, parfois tres appuye's et voisins de l a caricature,..." This curious juxta- position of photography and caricature continues the thorny question of r e a l i t y i n ar t without resolving i t , but cer t a i n - l y s,without damaging Le Breton's assertion e i t h e r . The dess c r i p t i o n Of Vautrin w i l l be found to consist largely of d e l i n - eations of his disguises or of his actions, plus a minimum of tangible physical d e t a i l s : h is red h a i r , his strong, hairy hands, a passing reference to the Farnesian Hercules and mainly his eyes -- and not even his eyes i n themselves, but rather the effect of his eyes. Just as i t was f i r s t Vautrin:!.! disguise which was described i n Goriot, s i m i l a r l y i t i s Vau- t r i n ' s apparel which receives f i r s t mention at the end of I l l u s i o n s . Lucien sees "un voyageur vetu tout en n o i r , les cheveux poudre's, chausse' de souliers de veau d'Orleans a boucles d'argent, brun de visage, et couture' comme s i , dans son enfance, i f fut tombe' dans l e feu."^^ Later comes the c l a s s i c l i s t of physical c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s : 9. Ibid., p. 59. 10.Illusions p. 584. -91- " Gros et court, de larges mains, un large buste, une force herculienne^ un regard t e r r i b l e , mais adouci par une mansuetude de commande; un t e i n t de bronze que ne laissai.t r i e n passer du dedans au dehors, inspiraient'beaucoup plus l a -repulsion que 1'attachement." 11 In Splendeurs, Vautrin f i r s t appears as "un masque 12 assassin, gros et court, roulant sur lui-meme comme un tonneau." Later we are t o l d that "des p l i s profonds que les v i e i l l e s c i c a t r i c e s d'une ho r r i b l e p e t i t e verole rendaient hideux et semblables a des ornieres de'chirees, s i l l o n n a i e n t sa figure oliva!tre et cuite par l e s o l e i l . " We are shown again "son buste d ' a t h l l t e , ses mains de vieux soldat. sa carrure; ses fortes epaules i . . " " ^ When Lucien knocks Carlos down, his wig f a l l s o f f and "un crtne p o l i comme une t£te de mort rendit a cet homme sa vraie physionomie; e l l e £tait e'pouvantable. ""^ The lack of description here i s perhaps p a r a l l e l e d i n des- cr i p t i o n s of Madame de Se'risy, who was "une blonde de moyenne t a i l l e , conservee comme les blondes,qui se sont conserves, . ..""^ and of Goriot, who shows Eugene "une tete dont les cheveux blancs i t a i e n t epars et qui mena^ait par tout ce qui pouvait exprimer l a menace."^ Edmund Wilson has stressed Proust"s emphasis on "the f u t i l i t y of try i n g to represent r e a l i t y by c o l l e c t i n g and organizing the data of the external 11. Ibid., p . 599. 12. Splendeurs, p. 52. 13. Ibid., p. 79. 14. Ibid., p. 79. 15. TbTd., p. 401. 16. p. 401. 17. Goriot, p, -92- 18 world." Suggestion allows the reader to imagine, to practise s e l f - i d e n t i f i c a t i o n or to make a combination of both. A s t r i k i n g difference i n tone marks Vautrin"s appear- ance i n Goriot and i n the two l a t e r novels. There are two possible ways to account for the disappearance of what Balzac c a l l s Vautrin 1s "grosse gaiete". The f i r s t i s based on Balzac's method of composition and would assume that under Balzac's hand Vautrin evolved i n theccourse of formation, for better or for worse, into the predominantly grave and almost t r a g i c figure of Splendeurs et miseres des courtisanes . The second i s based on the' f i n i s h e d - p o r t r a i t , as i t were, and assumes that the "grosse gaiete^" i s part and parcel of the convict's disguise at the Maison Vauquer. The second assump- t i o n does not invalidate the f i r s t , nor i s i t invalidated by i t , and seems, for aesthetic reasons, a f a i r e r way of judging Balzac's work. When he makes Vautrin a genius at disguise he also accounts for differences i n the various incarnations. To support t h i s , one should r e c a l l that a l l of the essential elements of Vautrin's character, other than gaiety, are pre-* sent i n Goriot. An evaluation of the t o t a l e ffect of a p o r - t r a i t must be based on the surface colours rather than on the lower layers of construction. Jean-Louis Bory has commented perceptively .on the confusion which i s created by Balzac's 18. Wilson, Op.Cit., p.178. -93- peculiar use of disguise as an element of the,obscurity which surrounds the criminal hero. Distinguishing from the masks and cloaks of the romanticists, he says: " L'identity du he'ros n'est plus inaccessible -- je connais ce monsieur, c'est un pretre, i l s'appelle Carlos Herrera, i l vient d*Es- pagne --mais e l l e est f l u i d e , parce qu'elle est a chaque instant truquee. Le farceur de table d'hote, dont ie sais le nom, l'£ge, l a n a t i o n a l i t y , les gouts, se metamorphose en cet abb€, dont je sais le nom, l'a^ge, l a n a t i o n a l i t y , les gouts. Mais le l i e n entre le farceur et l'abb€, Jacques C o l l i n , v o i l a ce que je ne connais pas et que je ne puis pas conna"Itre tant que 1'autre me t i e n t par son stratageme..."19 Balzac himself gives strong indications that Vautrin''s j o v i a l i t y i s only part of his disguise when he says: " Des gens moins superficiels...ne se seraient pas arreted a 1'impression douteuse que leur causait Vautrin... Quoiqu'il eut jete* son apparente(italics ours) bonhomie, sa constante complaisance et sa g a i e t i comme une barriere entre les autres et l u i , souvent i l l a i s s a i t percer l'e'pouvan- table profondeur de son caractere."20 Disguise or impression, the fact remains that Vautrin's l i v e - l y speech, sprinkled with rather s a l t y comments, contributes much to the favourable impression he makes upon fellow- boarders and readers a l i k e . Discussing the inmates of Paris- ian boarding houses i n Balzac's time, Jules Bertaut says: " . . . i l en est un que l'on trouve presque invariablement dans toutes les descriptions que l'on nous e n i f a i t , c'est l e Farceur de table d'h&te." 21 19. Jean-Louis Bory, Balzac et les te'nebres(Paris:La Jeune Parque,-20. Goriot p. 36. 1947), p.107. 21. Bertaut, p.52. -94- He quotes from one of these descriptions and remarks on the s t r i k i n g resemblance to Vautrin. " Le farceur de table d'h6te est gen^ralement un gros homme vulgaire, haut en couleurs, de caract^re j o v i a l , f a m i l i e r avec les pensionnaires masculins, galant avec les dames et l i b e r t i n avec l a bonne. Grand mangeur, grand buveur, grand amateur de chansons, i l n he'site pas a en fredonner une au dessert. C'est l u i qui lance l e quolibet, l e mot pour r i r e , l e calembour et l e coq-a-1'a"ne. C'est l u i qui poursuit de ses moqueieies un souffre-douleur q u ' i l aachhisiiparmi les hdtes et qui sera l a c i b l e vivante sur laquelle i l decochera ses f i l c h e s . C'est l u i qui montera les scies, qui inventera les petites plaisanteries quotidiennes,... C'est l u i qui demandera a C^I&QEC toutes les fetes par l a montee d'une bonne b o u t e i l l e . C'est l u i qui re'galera et qui finalement fera payer aux autres son e'cot. Toujours le premier a r i r e et l e dernier a payer." 22 That Balzac was not unfamiliar with t h i s character i s shown when he has the unnamed painter say to Vautrin "Vous 23 devriez poser pour un Hercule-Farceur." I t would seem that Vautrin chose a disguise which he f e l t himself capable of carrying out for an extended period of time, jus t as he la t e r chose that of a p r i e s t , thereby imposing a formidable shield between society and himself. "Sa voix de b a s s e - t a i l l e , " un- disguis~edsM9IGoriot and recognized even through a Spanish accent i n Splendeurs by Madame Michonneau-Poiret and B i b i - Lupin, was "en harmonie avec sa grosse gaieteV' 22. Bertaut,- Op.Cit., p.52-53. : " 23. Goriot p.168. 24. Splendeurs p.483. -95- His speech i t s e l f i s generally d i r e c t and forceful^" 3 devoid of " s t y l e " and peppered with i n t e r j e c t o r y words and phrases such as "Connu, connu, , m"merci, 1 1 "Bien oblige", "Bah!," 26 "pouah!". One of his picturesque comparisons i s "malheur- 2 7 eux comme les pierres d'e'gout..." and his c a l l i n g Mademoiselle Michonneau " l a Vdnus duyPere-Lachaise" and Poiret " l e dieu 2 8 des j a r d i n s " i s unforgettable. Though the tone of Vautrin's language changes, i t s occasional abundance does not, and i f he i s fond of short expressive words, he i s also as adept at lengthy speeches i n I l l u s i o n s and Splendeurs as he i s i n Goriot. Balzac does not hesitate to pen page a f t e r page of Nucingen's pa i n f u l patois, but Vautrin's thick Spanish accent i s not transcribed. The author abandons the use of phonetic s p e l l i n g as much, one f e e l s , out of respect for his character as because such d i s t r o t i o n s "huiraient a l a rapidite" 29 d'un denoument". Balzac does t r y to introduce another element of force into Vautrin's speech by having him use underworld slang, and he expatiates on the strenghc of imagery inherent i n t h i s vocabulary. The effectiveness of 25. "lersonne n'a remarque', et cependant cela saute aux jeux et aux o r e i l l e s combien l a langue de Napoleon 1 r, cette langue par petites phrases de commandement, l a langue conserved par Las Gasas dans Le Memorial de Sainte-H^l^ne,efetencore mieux dans les Entretiens~de Roederer, a e'te' prise et mise par Balzac dans l a bouche de ses types m i l i t a i r e s , gouvernementaux, humanitaires depuis les t i r a d l l s de ses hommes d'etat jusqu'aux tirades de Vautrin, Edmond et Jules de Goncourt, Journal, (Paris: Flammarion and Fasquelle, n.d. Edition d e f i n i t i v e ) I, 198-199 26. Goriot p. 109. 27.Ibid., p. 29. 28.TEI5., p. 168., 29.Splendeurs p. 231. -96- the device i s almost n u l l i f i e d by the necessity of i n - cluding parenthetical translations which are c e r t a i n l y indispensable though almost as trying as Nucingen's Alsatian French. A more successful l i f e - g i v i n g device is " that of '* the v e i l e d a l l u s i o n s as used between Rastignac and Vau^. t r i n . While these a l l u s i o n s are understood by the reader and the two parties concerned, they are not understood by the others i n the boarding house. When Vautrin finds Euglne and Victorine t a l k i n g together a f t e r dinner, he says " I I y aurait done promesses de mariage entre Monsieur le chevalier de Rastignac et Mademoiselle Victorine 30 T a i l l e f e r ? " Rastignac i s extremely embarrassed to have Vautrin interpret t h i s conversation as a sign of capitu- l a t i o n to Vautrin's scheme. Later, Vautrin has arranged the duel between Franchessini and Victorine' s. brother and i s happy at the prospect of obtaining his commission out of the dowry. To Madame Vauquer's comment on his cheer- fulness, Vautrin, i n his role as businessman, r e p l i e s : "--Je suis toujours gai quand j ' a i f a i t de bonnes a f f a i r e s . --Des a f f a i r e s ? d i t Eugene. " E h ! bien, oui. J ' a i l i v r e ' une partie de marchandise qui me vaudra de bons d r o i t s de commission." 31 The interview between Vautrin and Corentin i n Granville's 30. Goriot p. 52. 31. Ibid., p. 168. -97- o f f i c e i s almost as loaded with cutting remarks as i s that between Madame de Beauseant and Madame de Langeais i n 32 Goriot. Vautrin acknowledges defeat but t e l l s Cor- entin that i t was a costl y v i c t o r y . "Oui, r^pondit Cor- entin, en acceptant l a p l a i s a n t e r i e ; s i vous avez perdu 33 votre reine, moi j ' a i perdu mes deux tours..." And again, "Monsieur, monsieur, d i t Jacques C o l l i n , vous m'accablez...De votre part, ces ̂ loges feraient perdre l a tete...-- l i s sont me'rit^s!" 3 4 In passing, one should also mention Vautrin's ges- tures, many of which merely i l l u s t r a t e his herculean strength, but most of which have, again, to do with the role he i s playing i n his disguises. At the age of f i f t y , he has no d i f f i c u l t y i n hoisting himself through a skylight to escape pursuit, and does so with as much ease as he embraced Madame Vauquer's large circumference. On the pretence of embracing Corentin, he picks him up bodily and sets him outside Granville's o f f i c e . His Herculean strength even has a negative value when i t i s compared to the strength of the drug administered by Mademoiselle Michonneau and when Vautrin allows Lucien to knock him down. He seems to forget his usual r e s t r a i n t when he 32. Ibid., p. 82. 33. Splendeurs p. 611. 34. Ibid., pT~612. -98- pushes Goriot's hat down over his ears. But since t h i s occurs i n a s l a p s t i c k episode, we can assume either that Balzac was carried away with his portrayal of the Farceur or that Vautrin was r e i n f o r c i n g his disguise. One re- c a l l s also the scene i n the prison courtyard during which Vautrin gives a l l the appearances of being a p r i e s t un- ctuously consoling the wretched while he i s i n r e a l i t y discussing dastardly criminal a f f a i r s i n energetic under- world slang. The e f f e c t i s heightened by the fact that some of his reactions are perfectly genuine, as, for example, when he learns that C a l v i i s about to be execu- ted. While Camusot i s questioning Vautrin and t e l l i n g him the l i f e - h i s t o r y of his aunt Jacqueline, Vautrin i s careful to think about his happy childhood --"me'ditation qui l u i donnait un a i r veritablement e'tonn!. Malgre' l ' h a b i l i t e de sa d i c t i o n interrogative, Camusot n'arracha 35 pas un mouvement a cette physionomie placide". In sum, we are i n c l i n e d to agree generally with Bertaut's eval- uation of Balzac's rendition of Vautrin's words and ges- tures. " Admirons que Balzae ne l ' a i t pas dou6 de l a faconde dont l'eut dot! plus d'un g c r i v a i n de son temps, et, a. part le monologue devant Rastignac, l u i a i t conserve" une sobri^te' de paroles et de gestes qui en f a i t un per- sonnage ve'ridique dans 1 exceptionnel et sincere dans 1 outrance."36 35. Ibid., p. 418. 36. Bertaut, pp. 86-87. -99- Turning from the physical to the moral aspects of the character, we f i n d that Balzac has given Vautrin the motivation which other rebel heroes lack and which d i s - tinguishes him from them. Not only i s the motivation ad- equate, but i t i s based on what may be c a l l e d external issues: the p l i g h t of the transgressor of laws -- both as convict and as ex-convict; the state of mind of the i l l e g i t i m a t e c h i l d ; that of the homosexual and f i n a l l y the whole pattern of s o c i a l hypocrisy and inconsistency. Though Balzac l i k e d to consider himself, and i s indeed most often considered, a s o c i a l h i s t o r i a n , he should be regarded also as a s o c i a l reformer because of the i n - sistence with which he spoke of the e v i l s of branding, of the law concerning "contrainte par corps", a subject 37 also treated by Appert , and of the corrupting i n f l u - ence of the prisons. The characters Jacques Farrabesche and Maxence G i l e t both provide the occasion for dia- t r i b e s against the corruption and immorality of prisons and Vautrin acts out i n his adventures what i s said i n connection with the others. The implication i s that i f Vuatrin were not corrupt before going to prison, he would have had ample motive for being so a f t e r his release or escape. The sorry p l i g h t of the ex-convict was known 37. Benjamin Appert, Bagnes, prisons et criminels (Paris: Guibert, 1836), pp.134-148. -100- to Balzac through reading Benjamin Appert, Victor Hugo and Vidocq. Society, by i t s use of tie brand mark and the yellow work-card, refused to be s a t i s f i e d with the penalty i t had i t s e l f assigned for a given offense, and by making i t impossible for ex-convicts to earn a decent l i v i n g , forced them back into crime. I t i s t h i s kind of i l l o g i c a l i t y as w e l l as the barbarity which society displays for the i l l e g i t i m a t e c h i l d and for the homo- sexual which i n f u r i a t e s Vautrin. Because he i s i n t h i s threefold manner rejected by society and because he i s acutely aware of the waste of his i n t e l l e c t u a l f a c u l t i e s , Vautrin i n turn rejects society. However, his need for love i s greater than his hatred of the e v i l that society represents and we have seen how t h i s need underlies a l l his actions. In Vautrin's p o r t r a i t , Balzac has gone to great lengths bo?make his character as r e a l i s t i c as possible by a t t r i b u t i n g to him idiosyncracies i n gesture, speech and tone and has taken great care to prepare us for any deviations i n t h i s p o r t r a i t by emphasizing Vautrin's mas- tery of disguise. That the r e l a t i o n s h i p between author and creature i s close i s unquestionable but that t h i s r e a l i t y had to be to some extent deformed was a necessary form of self-protection. In conclusion however, Balzac's -101- e f f o r t s i n realism have been rewarded by the creation of a more intense characterization. Balzac and Symbolism How much should be said of symbolism i n connection with an author who died i n 1850? Perhaps a great deal. Perhaps t h i s i s the " r e a l " symbolism since i t i s , or may be, unconscious, In any case, there would seem to be, i n the f i r s t pages of Goriot, too many words pointing to Vautrin to l e t t h i s aspect of Balzac's technique go un- noticed. Indeed, Balzac seems to i n v i t e examination of his text i n t h i s l i g h t when he says of Madame Vauquer's statue of Love: " A v o i r l e vernis e"caill£ qui l a couvre, les amateurs de symboles y de'couvriraient un mythe de 1'amour p a r i s i e n qu'on gu£rit a quelques pas de la."38 Many words express confinement, r e s t r a i n t -- the confine- ment and r e s t r a i n t of a prison whose presence i s invoked d i r e c t l y when Balzac refers to Madame Vauquer's po s i t i o n i n r e l a t i o n to the pension saying: "Le bagne ne va pas sans l'argousin, vous n'imaginerez pas l'un sans l'autre." Certainly also le bagne ne va pas sans 3e bagnard. Confine ment i s even indicated by Balzac's c a l l i n g the rue Neuve- Sainte-Genevieve "un cadre de bronze, le seul qui con- vienne a ce re"cit, auquel on ne saurait trop preparer 1'intelligence par des couleurs brunes, par des i d i e s g r a v e s " ( I t a l i c s ours). The walk i s "borde^e de ger- 38. Goriot pp. 27-30 and on the following two pages. -102- aniums"; the courtyard, which has no part i n the story, i s an enclosure "large d'environ vingt pieds," and mention i s made of the engraving i n the dining room, "eneadre'es en bois n o i r . " Surely one could never be so aware of walls any place but i n a prison -- even La t i n walls-- f for when one finishes the story, "peut-£tre aixa-t-on vers6 quelques larmes i n t r a muros et extra." In the street grass grows along the walls , and the walls smell prison- l i k e . The garden i s flanked by the facade and along the fapade i s an area of pebbles. There i s a wall opposite the street and at night a s o l i d door blocks off the street. The garden i s as wide as the facade i s long, and is"en- caiss£ par le mur de l a rue et le mur mitoyen" of the neighbouring house. Each of tbase walls i s decorated with espaliers and vines and along each wal l i s a pathway. T The facade i s four stories high. With small violence to Lovelace, stone walls may not a prison make --even the twelve references to them i n the fifrst four pages of Goriot -- nor ir o n bars-a cage, although there are rae enough references to the l a t t e r to strongly suggest a prison -- beginning with the "porte a c l a i r e - v o i e " open- ing onto the street. The same "porte a c l a i r e voie est remplacee par une porte pleine" at n i g h t f a l l . "Les cinq croisees percees a. chaque £tage ont de petites carreaux et sont garnies de jalousies dont aucune n'est releve"e -103- de l a m£me maniere, en sorte que toutes leurs lignes jurent entre e l l e s " . On the streetside of the house the "deux croise'es... ont pour ornement des barreaux en fer grillage's". One enters the house through a "porte-f ene^tre" with i t s suggestion of bars aad one sees again the two "croise'es de l a rue" with t h e i r iron bars. The furniture i s sadly upholstered i n "e'toffe de c r i n a raies alternativement mates et luisantes". Again, on the panel "d*entre les croise'es g r i l l a g ^ e s " , i s the scene of Calypso's feast for Ulysses' sons. The mantlepiece i s decorated with "f l e u r s a r t i f i c i e l l e s , v i e i l l e s et encage^es," and the l i v i n g room "sent l a renferm!". In a corner of the dining room i s a "boite ai cases" with i t s v e r t i c a l and h o r i - zontal l i n e s , "qui sert a garder les serviettes". The dining room i s separated from the kitchen by " l a cage d'un e s c a l i e r dont les marches sont en bois et en carreaux" In the enclosed courtyard hangs " l e garde-manger" and at the end of i t the shed "a. sci e r l e bois". The board- ing house, l i k e a prison, "admet les hommes et des femmes, des jeunes gens et des v i e i l l a r d s " . Balzac com- plains here that the word"drame" has been treated i n a "maniere...tortionnaire." A Parisian wandering into t h i s street would only see "de l a joyeuse jeunesse contrainte a t r a v a i l l e r , " a n d the young boarders believe them- selves superior to t h e i r p o s i t i o n by mocking Madame Vauquer's dinner,"auquel l a misere les condamne." In -104- the dining room are pieces of furniture "proscrits par- tout, mais place's la. comme le sont les debris de l a c i v - i l i s a t i o n aux Incurables." If a l l the preceding are slanted toward producing a feeli n g of confinement, res- t r a i n t and prison, what of the famous wallpaper and the statue of Love? In Splendeurs et mi'seres des courtisanes, 39 Balzac c a l l s Vautrin Lucien s mentor, and i n I l l u s i o n s perdues, Vautrin r e f e r r i n g to man's "de'sir souverain"^ for companionship, says: " I I y a l a tout un poeme a. f a i r e qui s e r a i t l'avant-scene du Paradis perdu, qui n'est que l'apologie de l a ReVolte. --Celui-Ia s e r a i t 1 ' I l l i a d e de l a corruption, d i t Lucien."^''" I t i s Minerva (Vautrin... connaissait tout d ' a i l l e u r s . . . " ) i n the guise of Mentor who leads Telemachus i n search of his father. The statue of Love --"qui que tu sois, v o i c i ton maltre:/ II l ' e s t , le fut ou le doit e^tre." Scaly as i t i s , i t can rep- resent Vautrin's as well as Goriot's feelings -- both pathological. And we should not forget the famous sign: "Pension bourgeoise des deux sexes et autres" hanging c over the "porte-batarde"! Compared to t h i s compact mass of suggestive images or symbols paving the way for Vautrin, the preparation accorded his entrance i n I l l u s i o n s perdues i s v a s t l y i n - f e r i o r through i t s obviousness. One r e c a l l s Lucien's 39y.t~Splendeurs p. 196. 40. I l l u s i o n s ~ p . 602. 41. I b i d . , p. 602. 42. Goriot p. 27. 45. ; ' -105- l e t t e r to his s i s t e r i n which he wrote "Je ne puis acquerir de valeur que par un mariage avec une volonte' fo r t e , impitoyable." and Vautrin 1s entrance two or three pages l a t e r . Perhaps Balzac f e l t that extensive prep- aration was no longer necessary for Vautrin to appear i n I l l u s i o n s perdues and i n Splendeurs et miseres des courtisanes. I t i s almost certain that some mysterious process of association with the prison and prisoner images i n the f i r s t pages of Le Plre Goriot makes the presence of the escaped convict i n t h i s boarding house as natural and ...believable as a r t i s t i c talent i s capable of making i t . Conclusion Balzac's deviation from his usual mode of des- c r i p t i o n i s a f i r s t clue indicating his d i f f e r i n g approach to Vautrin. The lack of d e t a i l s , so a t y p i c a l of the ." author, nevertheless achieves a strong sense of realism by encouraging the reader's imaginative p a r t i c i p a t i o n . We smell Vautrin, hear his awful voice, we are struck by his gestures, f e e l his penetrating gaze and are over- whelmed by a tremendous aura of power. I t i s but another step to f i l l i n any missing d e t a i l s . The suggestion and i n t e n s i t y t y p i c a l of Balzac's e f f o r t s i n realism are also evident i n his f i r s t attempts at a form of symbolism. Because Vautrin i s such a prominent underworld f i g - 43. I l l u s ions p.581. . _ -106- ure, i t seems natural that Balzac's symbolism should be derived from penitentiary imagery and include terms of r e s t r a i n t and repression. Through t h e i r use we are subtly prepared for the disclosure of Vautrin's true c a l l i n g . Combining realism with early attempts at sym- bolism, Balzac achieves one of his most successfully r e a l i s t i c characters. CHAPTER SIX: CONCLUDING NOTES The f i r s t chapter of our study set out to fi n d the sources of Balzac's Vautrin. By asking ourselves whether or not Vautrin was an innovation, we arrived at several possible l i t e r a r y prototypes, dominated by the i n f l u - ence of Ann R a d c l i f f e , Byron, Goethe and S c h i l l e r i n p a r t i c u l a r . In t h e i r works, i t was possible to discern a remarkable s i m i l a r i t y i n the physical and metaphysi- c a l make-up of t h e i r most successful characters and the make-up of Vautrin. Dark, s i n i s t e r deeds are cloaked i n an aura of c h i l l i n g mystery which no one dares question once they have been mesmerized by the penetrating glare of Conrad Moor, Schedoni, the Giaour and Vautrin, He shares the fearsome and rebellious s p i r i t of a Conrad, the s o c i a l corruption of a Karl Moor and the deep longing to es- cape i t a l l i n some paradise that characterizes Rene'. Vautrin shares a l l thesescharacteristics with his pre- decessors as well as an a b i l i t y to r i s e to heroic pro- portions as a v i l l a i n as do Melmoth, Ferragus and Satan. At times Vautrin seems deserving of our sympathy as a champion wrong-doer and dresser of wrongs operating against and: e v i l , corrupt society, on his own or as a leader of adventurers linked by a common cause. Just -108- how many can claim to be at least p a r t i a l prototypes of t h i s remarkable figure of l i t e r a t u r e , i s r e a l l y not the question. We have shown that he shares many of his outstanding c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s with his l i t e r a r y predecessors and i t only remains for us to see how Balzac synthesized these influences with those of the r e a l l i f e prototypes of nineteenth-century society. Both i n l i f e patterns and physical appearance, Vautrin bears a stong resemblence to two legendary figures of reformed c r i m i n a l i t y of Balzac's time. Vidocq and Coignard share not only lengthy criminal records with Balzac's "Machiavel du bagne", but they also distinguished themselves by eventually applying t h e i r knowledge of the underworld i n the service of Law and Order. As reformed criminals a l l three rose to great heights as they had done i n t h e i r buccaneer days. That Balzac was a master at combining both the l i t e r a r y influences with the sensational r e a l i t y of his day i n the creation of Vautrin there can be no doubt. As our study progresses however we f i n d that there i s much more to t h i s complex creation than a mere synthesizing of outside influences. Chapter Two succeeds i n exploring the complexity of Vautrin's make-up. Combined with prototypes, l i t e r - ary and h i s t o r i c a l , are character attributes developed by Balzac's personal creative a b i l i t y . Two of these -109- prominent features of Vautrin 1s character are elaborated upon i n t h i s chapter: mystery and power. Reflecting the author's taste for secret machinations and his fascination by the theories of G a l l , Lavater and Mesmer, are Vautrin 1s a t t r i b u t e s of mysteriousness and an aura, of power. The techniques used to convey these att r i b u t e s are examined i n d e t a i l as i s t h e i r influences on Vautrin 1s fellow characters. In f a c t , they are only revealed to us through two sources: either viewed as a technique of the author's, or as reacted to by the r e c i p i e n t s , victims or whatever. In other words the r e s t r a i n t used i n giving d e t a i l s of Vautrin's former l i f e , the omission of a cataloguing of his crimes, and the ambiguousness of his relationships with young men are techniques of the author's, used to perpetuate a sense of mystery and power. On the other hand, the p o r t r a i t of those other Vautrinesque features that convey a sense of mystery and power, such as his p h y s i c a l ! appearance, his f i n a n c i a l resources or his motivations, are revealed c l e a r l y by Vautrin himself.. Rather, we gain our impression of them through the impression they; make on his fellows. A clever heightening of emotional reaction i s thereby attained by the author. F i n a l l y , because of the recurring s i m i l a r i t i e s and ambiguous references, we f e l t i t relevant to draw a -110- p a r a l l e l between Vautrin and Satan. There i s much evidence to support a demonic inte r p r e t a t i o n of Vautrin. This p o s s i b i l i t y i s demonstrated by our detailed study of the mystery and power which dominates the persona of Vautrin. Having introduced a l l the more important aspects of Vautrin's character, we then explored his. "raison dj§tre, his "passion". Beginning with a look at Balzac's own emancipated ideas on s o c i a l responsability to the i n d i v i d u a l . We see that his motivation can i n part be traced to his strong d i s l i k e of the bourgeoisie and his own personal f a i l u r e i n several aspects of s o c i a l be- haviour. His own s o c i a l awareness increased his desire to a l e r t others to the i l l s and e v i l s i n f e c t i n g society. The creation of Vautrin came as a natural r e s u l t of th i s desire. P a r t i c u l a r l y influenced by Godwin's Caleb Williams, and his ideas on the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of the criminal's struggle against society, Balzac's a n t i - s o c i a l ideas are voiced through Vautrin among others. The passing of the great Napoleonic era also greatly influenced the creation of Vautrin. Through him, Balzac expresses the f r u s t r a t i o n of those not born to power and riches but who have been stimulated by Napoleon's example. Having explored Balzac's reasons for creating an -111- a n t i - s o c i a l .mouthpiece, we turn to Vautrin i n order to e s t a b l i s h his r i g h t to e x i s t as a separate e n t i t y . There can be no question that he was f u l l y j u s t i f i e d i n his anarchy. The deplorable l i f e he led, fraught with s o c i a l i n j u s t i c e s , makes his revolt a believable one. For him there are but two p o s s i b i l i t i e s : stupid obedience to an oppressive order or open re v o l t . He accomplishes the l a t t e r most e f f e c t i v e l y through the use of intermediaries such as Eugene and Lucien. Their triumph and success i n the s o c i a l world, despite a l l odds, come to represent Vautrin's triumph. Using stolen mone and blackmail Vautrin creates the a l l - important image for his prote'gds - power and wealth; proving that society forgives the means by which these two gods materialize themselves. Claiming f o r c e f u l l y that honesty has no s o c i a l value, Vautrin combines his s k i l l at corruption and an "€elat de ge'nie"tto complete his revenge. We have thus c l e a r l y shown the intimate l i n k be- tween Vautrin and his creator through the s i m i l a r i t y of t h e i r s o c i a l consciousness. Vautrin's success as a s p i r i t of revolt i s largely due to the natural under- standing that Balzac had for his motivations. We have been careful to stress however, that while Vautrin ex- presses many of Balzac's frustrations and reforming -112- ideas, he i s w e l l able to stand apart from his creator. His anarchy not only seems j u s t i f i a b l e , but the success of his revolt wins our admiration. Dealing with Vautrin's amorous i n c l i n a t i o n s , Chapter Four expresses another aspect of Vautrin's r e v o l t . In examining the major reasons for Vautrin's f a i l u r e to overthrow society, we are fa ed with his overwhelming need of companionship and love. This flaw i n an otherwise indestructible w i l l to power, results i n his ultimate downfall. However, because he i s a homosexual, the form of t h i s love i s a revolt i n i t s e l f and, even as he loses his f i g h t against society, he might have been able to lose with a smile. The reason he doesn't l i e s i n the dual nature of his love. His homosexuality i s clos e l y a l l i e d toj a strong paternal drive so that i n losing Eugene, Lucien and almost C a l v i , he loses not only a w i l l i n g agent but a lover and a son. Exploring the reasons for t h i s innovative character t r a i t , we f i n d that there are several possible sources. F i r s t , a l i t e r a r y precedent was set by Venice Preserved i n which an intimate bond between two men i s portrayed. Secondly, we f i n d i n Balzac's own writings ample evidence of his previous attempts to portray relationships between members of the same sex, though i n a much less overt manner. Most important perhaps, i s Balzac's strong b e l i e f -113- that women and power don't mix. Having set out to por- tray an almost completely successful figure of r e v o l t , he had to j u s t i f y the removal of d i s t r a c t i n g feminine lures. Hence the solution found i n a paternal or homo— sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p . Vautrin, i t appears, opts for homosexuality i n his love for C a l v i , Eugene and Lucien, while Balzac, perhaps to be less offensive to his readers, emphasises the paternal side of Vautrin's relationships with young men. Either option leaves Vautrin with a ce r t a i n v u l n e r a b i l i t y . I t would seem that he i s only attackable through t h i s weakness and indeed, i t i s as a r e s u l t of his love for Lucien that he gives himself up to the forces of Law and Order. Our f i n a l chapter explored the realism with which Balzac endows Vautrin. Making him come a l i v e through c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of speech, gesture and attitude yet allowing for Vautrin's chameleon-like changes by stressing his command of disguises, Balzac involves his reader t o t a l l y i n his creation. He heightens Vautrin's impor- tance by a t t i b u t i n g symbolism to his descriptions, actions and words. Balzac's use of symbolism enables us to seemmore of the inner emotions and forces that a mere portrayal would. In summary, Balzac shares Lucien's reaction com- pounded of scorn and admiration, so that the reader w i l l - l i t e detest his actions but pay t r i b u t e to the source which galvanizes them. "C'est qu'ordinairement l a grandeur de carac- tere r l s u l t e de l a balance de plusieurs qualities oppose"es." 1 explained Rameau's nephew. Like a l l of the great figures i n world l i t e r a t u r e , Vautrin moves ultimately from the l i m i t a t i o n s imposed by his creator and clears his own path to immorality. Balzac considered Vautrin one of his warmest characters. He has put into him some of the fervour that burnedaat the centre of his own being. To keep up appearances, Balzac^seems at times to condemn his creation but behind thesmoral chastisement! however, there i s a strong sense of sympathy. As an example of the forces which a t t r a c t us to that immoral figure of r e v o l t , l e t us re-read Lucien's farewell l e t t e r , a l e t t e r which Balzac thought well-enough... of to put twice before the reader's eyes i n Splendeurs: "... I I y a l a posterite de Cain et c e l l e vdt'tAbel^comme vous d i s i e z quelquefois. Cain, dans le grand drame de 1 Humanite', c'est 1'opposition. Vous descende>z d'Adam par cette ligne en qui le diable a continue' de s o u f f l e r le feu dont l a premiere e t i n c e l l e avait 6t6 jet^e sur Eve. Parmi les demons de cette f i l i a t i o n , i l s^en trouve, de temps en temps, de t e r r i b l e s , a organisations vastes, qui re'sument toutes les forces humaines et qui ressemblent a ces fievreux animaux du desert dont l a vie exige les espaces immenses q u ' i l s y trouvent. Ces gens-la sont dangereux dans l a societe comme des lions l e seraient en pleine Normandie: i l leur faut une pature, i l s deVorent les 1. Diderot, Le Neveu de Rameau (Geneve: Jean Eabre),1950j p.73. -115- hommes vulgaires et broutent les e'cus des n i a i s ; leurs jeux sont s i pe^rilleux q u ' i l s f i n i s s e n t par tuer l 1humble chien dont i l s se sont f a i t un compagnon, une ido l e . Quand Dieu l e veut, ces etres myste'rieux sont Mo'ise, A t t i l a , Charlemagne, Mahomet ou Napoleon; mais quand i l l a i s s e s r o u i l l e r au fond de l'ocean d'une generation ces instruments gigantesques, i l s ne sontpplus que Pugatcheff, Robespierre, Louvel et l'abbe" Carlos Herrera. . Dou£s d'un immense pouvoir sur les ames tendres, i l s les a t t i r e n t et les broient. -C'est g^and, c'est beau dans §6ii genre. C'est l a plante ven^neuse aux riches couleurs qui fascinent les enfants dans les bois. C'est l a po£sie du mal. Des hommes comme vous autres doivent habiter des antres et n'en pas s o r t i r . Tu m'as f a i t vivre de cette vie gigan- tesque, et j ' a i bien mon compte de l'existence. A i n s i , je puis r e t i r e r ma tete des n^oeuds gordiens de ta p o l i t i q u e , pour l a donner au noeud coulant de ma cravate... Adieu done, adieu, grandiose statue du mal et de l a corruption, adieu, vous qui, dans l a bonne voie, eussiez ete plus que Ximenes, plus que Richelieu;... Ne me regrettez pas: mon mejpris pour vous etait £gal a mon admiration." 2 Each reader of the Comgdie humaine can, with the marvelous freedom accorded readers, choose one or another character as his f a v o r i t e . But there i s probably none more s o l i d l y imposing than t h i s figure as ambiguous and complex as human beings are complex, and ambiguous, and to whom Balzac refers as t h i s "Alpe f r o i d e , blanche et voisine, du c i e l , i n a l t e r a b l e et sourcilleuse, aux flanes de granit, et cependant bienfaisant".^ Just as his creator says "... les plus £tonnants coups de 2/ Splendeurs pp. 500-501. (Letter also on pp. 463-465.) 3. Ibid., p. 82. - I K - foudre avaient pu seuls le changer, s i toutefois une 4 p a r e i l l e nature e t a i t susceptible de changement ? , so does one suspect that readers' for a long time to come w i l l continue to regard with feelings as mixed as those expressed i n Lucien's l e t t e r , t h i s figure standing at the end of Balzac's work and dominating i t a l l . 4. I b i d . , p. 339. -117- BIBLIOGRAPHY C r i t i c a l , Biographical and H i s t o r i c a l Works Affron, Charles. Patterns of Failure i n 'La Comedie humaine1. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966. Allemand, Andrei U n i t ! et structure de 1'univers balzacien. P a r i s : Plon, 1965. Honor! de Balzac: creation et passion. P a r i s : Plon, 1965. A l t z y l e r , Hele*ne. La Gen^se et l e Plan des caracteres dans 1'oeuvre de Balzac. P a r i s : F e l i x Alcan, 1928. Atkinson, Geoffroy. Les Idles de Balzac d'apres 'La Comedie humaine'. Geneve: Droz, 1949-1950. Baldensperger, Fernand. 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Geneve: Droz, 19b9. B i l l y , Andr£. La Vie de Balzac. Paris: Flammarion, 1944. Blanchard, Marc. Temoignages et jugements sur Balzac. Pa r i s : Champion, 1931. Boas, George. A Primer for C r i t i c s . Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1937. Borel, Jaeq.u&suisPersonnages et destins balzaciens. P a r i s : J . C o r t i , WW. Bory, Jean-Louis. Balzac et les tenVbres. (Essay prece- ding his Vautrin textes c h o i s i s ) . P a r i s : La Jeune Parque, 1947. Brunetiere, Ferdinand. Honore de Balzac. P a r i s : Calmann- Levy, 1906. Byron, A l f r e d , Lord. The Works of Lord Byron. London: John Murray, 1904. Calippe, L Abbe Charles. Balzac: ses i d l e s sociaies. * Pa r i s : Le Coffre, n.d. Canfield, Arthur. The Reappearing Characters i n Balzac's 'Comedie humaine'. North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1961. Cerfberr, Anatole and Christophe, Jules. Repertoire de 'La Comedie humaine' de Honor! de Balzac. Paris: Calmann-Levy, 1887. C!sari, Paul. Etude c r i t i q u e des passions dans l'oeuvre de Balzac. P a r i s : Les Presses modernes, 1938. -119- C o l l i n de Plancy, Jacques. Dictionnaire i n f e r n a l . : Bruxelles: Publisher not named, 1845. Cooper, James Fenimore. Le Dernier des mohicans. Pa r i s : Henri Be'ziat, 1936. Curtius, Ernst. Balzac. P a r i s : Grasset, 1933. Dargan, Edwin. Studies i n Balzac's Realism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1933. ~ Honore/ de Balzac: A Force of Nature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1932 Dargan, Ethel P. and Weinberg, George. The Evolution of Balzac's tCom€die humaine'.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1942. Decaves, Pierre. Balzac, dramatiste. P a r i s : La Table ronde, 1960. Delattre, Genevieve. Les Opinions l i t t e ' r a i r e s d e Balzac. Pa r i s : Presses u n i v e r s i t a i r e s de France, 1961. Diderot, Denis. Le Neveu de Rameau. Geneve: Jean Fabre Ed., 1950. Donnard, Jean-Herve'. Balzac: Les Re^alites economiques et sociales dans ' La Come'die humaine' . Pa r i s : C o l i n , W Emery, Le^on. Balzac et sa creation. Lyon: Audin, 1953. Esteve, Edmond. Byron et le romanticisme francais. Pa r i s : Boivin et Cie., 1929. : 5 Faguet, Emile. Balzac. Paris: Hachette, Grands Ecrivains francais, 1913. Ferguson, Muriel. La Volonte dans 'La Come'die humaine'. Par i s : Georges Coueville, 1935. F l a t , Paul. Essais sur Balzac. P a r i s : Plon, Nourrit et Cie., 18^3": Seconds Essais sur Balzac. P a r i s : Plon, 1894. -120- Forest, H.U. L*Esth£tique du roman balzacien. P a r i s : Presses u n i v e r s i t a i r e s de France, 1950. Froment, Miche1. Histoire de Vidocq, chef de l a Surete\ e"crite d'apres lui-rrteme. Paris: Lerosey, 1829. Giraud, Raymond. The Unheroic Hero i n the Novels of Stendhal, Balzac and Flaubert. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1957. Gozlan, Le'on. Balzac intime. Paris: L i b r a i r i e i l l u s t r e e . n.d. Guiraud, Edmond. Vautrin. Paris: 1923. Guy on, Bernard. La Cremation l i t t e ^ r a i r e chez Balzac. Paris: C o l i n , 1969. La Pense^e p o l i t i q u e et sociale de Balzac. Paris: C o l i n , 1967. Haycraft, Howard. Murder for Pleasure. New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1941. Hemmings, Frederick. Balzac: an inte r p r e t a t i o n of 1 La Comgciie humaine'. New York: Random House, 1967. Hourdin, Georges. Balzac: romancier des passions.Paris: Ed. Les Temps presents, 1950. Hunt, Herbert. Balzac' s ' Comdclie himine'. London: Univ- e r s i t y of London Press, 1964. Lavater, Johann. L'Art de connaltre les hommes par l a yily31 £physio nomi e. Paris: N i l e Ed., augmentee par M. Moreau, 1806-1809. Le Breton, Andre'. Balzac, 1'homme et 1'oeuvre. Paris: Boivin et Cie., 1925. Lotte, Fernand. Dictionnaire biographique des personnages f i c t i f s de 'La Comddie humaine. Par i s : C o r t i , 1952; Marceau, Fe'licien. Balzac et_son monde. Ed i t i o n revue et augmente'e, Paris: Gallimard, 1970. Maturin, Charles. Melmoth the Wanderer. Introduction by W.Faxton. Lincoln, Nebraska: Bison, 1961. -121- Mauriac, Claude. Aimer Balzac. Paris: C o l i n , 1945. Maurois, Andr!-. Prometheus. New York: Harper and Row, 1965. M i l a t c h i t c h , Douchan. Le Theatre de Honor! de Balzac. Paris: Hachette, iJW. Oliver, Edward. Honor! de Balzac. New York: Macmillan and Company, 1964. Poulet, Georges. La Distance i n t ! r i e u r e . P a r i s : Plon, 1952. " Etude sur le temps humain.Paris: Plon, 1949. Praz, Mario. The Romantic Agony. New York: Meridian, 1956. Preston, Ethel. Recherches sur l a technique de Balzac: Le Retour systematique des personnages dans 'La~ Com!die humaine.'Paris: Presses franpaises, 1926. P r i o u l t , Albert. Balzac ayant 'La Com!die humaine'. Paris: C o u r v i l l e , 1936. Rogers, Samuel. Ba1zac and the Nove1. Madison: Univer- s'.. ty osi¥ysof nWis.consin. Pre"ss, 1953. Royce, William. A Balzac Bibliography. Chicago: Univer- s i s i t y of Chicago Press, 1929. Sainte-Beuve, Charles. Les Grands Ecrivains francais: Romanciers. Pa r i s : Garnier, 1927. Savant, Jean. La Vie fabuleuse et authentique de Vidocq. Paris: E d i t i o n du S e u i l , 1950. S c h i l l e r , Fr!deric. Les Brigands. New York: Ungar, 1961. S c h i l l i n g , Bernard. The Hero as Fa i l u r e : Balzac and the Rubempr!' Cycle. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968. Spoelberch de Louvenjoul, Vicomte. Histoire des oeuvres de Honor! de Balzac. Pa r i s : Calmann- Levy, 1888. -122- Vaughan, Charles. The Romantic Revolt. London: Blackwood, 1907^ Vidcoq, Francois. Memoires de Vidocq. P a r i s : Tenon, 1828-1829"; . Les Voleurs. Paris: Chez l'auteur, l g 3 7 > ~ • . Les Vrais Memoires de Vidocq. Ed. Jean Savant, Paris: Editions Corre"a, 1950. Werblowsky, K.J. Zwi. Lucifer and Prometheus. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., 1952. Wilson, Edmund. Axel's Castle. New York: Scribners, 1950. ~ Wurmser, Andre\ La Come'die inhumaine. Pa r i s : G a l l i - mard, 1964. Zweig,ZStefan?L.efBalzac. New York: The Viking Press, 1946. "~ A r t i c l e s Gould, C. "The Present State of Balzac Studies". French Studies. 1970. XII, 299-323. . .. • Richer, M.F. "Autour de l a pierce 'Vautrin'". Merciire de France. 1 novembre, 1950, pp. 178-189. Roux, F. "Balzac jurisconsulte et c r i m i n a l i s t e " . Lyon: Archives d'Anthropologie c r i m i n e l l e . 1906. XXI, 67-74. Verni^re, P. "Balzac et l a gene^se de VautrinV. Revue d'histoire l i t t e r a i r e . juillet-de'cembre, 1939. pp. 180-200. janvier-mars, 1948. pp.53-68. Works by Balzac a. F i c t i o n Balzac, Honore' de. Oeuvres completes de Honore de Balzac. Paris: Conard, 1940. I l l u s i o n s perdues. Paris: Garnier- Flammarion, 196"5T . -123- Balzac, Honore' de. Le Pere Goriot. P a r i s : Garnier- Flammarion, I96TT. Splendeurs et miseres des courtisanes. P a r i s : Garnier-Flammarion, 1968. b. Correspondence Balzac, Honore de. Correspondance 1819-1850. Par i s : Calmann- Levy, 1B77~. . Correspondance i n c i t e avec Madame Zulma Carraud 1829-1850. Par i s : Armand Co l i n , 1935. . r—i. Correspondance ineldite avec l a Duchess de Castries 1831-1848. Paris: Ed. Lapina, 1928. Lettres \ l'Etrangere 1833-1844. Paris: Calmann-L€vy, 1954. . Letters to his Family. Ed. W.S. Hastings, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1934. •124« APPENDIX « BIOGRAPHIC SKETCH OF VAUTRIN1 Fausse i d e n t i t e prise par Jacques C o l l i n , sous laquelle i l est le plus connu. Ne en 1779, f i t ses Etudes aui college des Oratoriens jusqu'a l a rhdtorique (S&M) et debuta commis dans une banque ou le placa sa tante, Jacqueline C o l l i n , qui l ' a v a i t elevi. I l y endossa l a responsabilite* d'un faux en •icriture (S&M), commis "par un t r l s beau jeune homme q u ' i l aimait beaucoup, jeune I t a l i e n assez joueur qui entra dans 1 1'armeV ( l e colonel Franchessini) (PG). Condamn£ pour ce, d'elit \ cinq ans de travaux forces (S&M), i l fut envoy! au bagne et s'en evada. Dissimulant son i d e n t i t ! sous c e l l e d'un sieur Vautrin, r e n t i e r , i l se trouvait a Paris en 1815 pensionnaire a. l a pension Vauquer, rue Neuve-Sainte-Genevieve . II y resta jusqu'en 1820. La p r o p r i ! t a i r e avait s i grande confiance en l u i q u ' i l e t a i t l e seul a posse'der un passe- partout, ses " a f f a i r e s " l'obligeant a rentrer parfois tard dans l a nuit(P.G). En 1818, l a p o l i c e , qui recherchait tou- jours le forcat Trompe-la-Mort, commenga a s'int!resser a M. Vautrin et le s u r v e i l l e discretement. En 1819, a peu pres sur de son f a i t , Bibi-Lupin, chef de l a Surete, s'abouchait avec deux pensionnaires de l a pension Vauquer, M. Poiret et Mile. Michonneau, a f i n de l'espionner plus efficacement (PG). Vers cette epoque, le jeune baron de Rastignac p r i t pension a l a maison Vauquer. Devinant sa devorante ambition, Vautrin essaya de se l'attacher et tenta de l u i f a i r e e'pouser Vic t o r - ine T a i l l e f e r q u ' i l rendit h e r i t i ^ r e des m i l l i o n s paternels 1. Fernand Lotte, Dictionnaire biographique des personnages f i c t i f s de l a Come*die humaine (Paris: C o r t i , 1952), pp.629-631. -125' en faisant tuer son f r l r e en duel par un breteur qui l u i avait des obligations: l e colonel Franchessini. Drogue* par Vautrin, Rastignac ne pouvait in t e r v e n i r a temps pour eViter le combat, mais ayant encore "quelques langes tstches de vertu", i l £luda le pacte. Peu apr^s, l e 15 f e v r i e r 1820, arre^te par B i b i - Lupin, Vautrin retournait au bagne de Rochefort (S&M). I I ne tar d a i t pas a s 1 en evader avec son camarade de chaine, Theo- dore C a l v i , d i t Madeleine, les bagnards ayant tout f a i t pour f a c i l i t e r l a f u i t e de leur "dab". Pass! en Espagne et cher- chant a se r e f a i r e une autre personnalit!, i l s ' i n c l i n a pour l ' ! t a t eccle'siastique. Dans une embuscade, i l tue l'abbe Carlos Herrera, chanoine de l a cathidrale de Tolede, qui ven- a i t d'etre chargl d'une mission diplomatique en France comme envoy! secret de S.M. Ferdinand VII \ S.M. Louis XVIII. Devant le cadavre du pre^tre, a l'aide de r e a c t i f s chimiques, i l changea son visage a f i n de l u i ressembler, et se f i t des bless- ures au dos pour effacer les ind!sirables l e t t r e s T.F., i r r e - cusables tlmoins de son pass!, apprit l'espagnol "et autant de l a t i n qu'un pretre andalou en devait savoir". A Barce- lone, en confession, une deVote l u i revela qu'elle poss!dait un tr£sor du a un crime qu'elle avait commis. Continuant a jbuer son rOle, i l ne consentit a l u i donner 1'absolution que lorsqu'elle l e l u i eut remis: i l promit de l e r e s t i t u e r aux ayarits d r o i t s Riche des pesetas de sa p!nitente et du tre'sor de Carlos Herrera, i l r e n t r a i t en France sous les t r a i t s de sa victime par l a diligence (S&M). Le 15 septembre, 1822, sur l a route d'AngouleW a P o i t i e r s , pres de Marsac, i l ren- contrait Lucien de Rubempr!, ruminant des projets de suicide. II eut tSt f a i t de dissuader cet i n d ! c i s , se l'attacha comme secretaire p a r t i c u l i e r et l'emmena avec l u i \ Pa r i s , apres un melancolique coup d'oeil donne en passant a l a v i e i l l e de- meure des Rastignac (IP). Sur Rubempre i l reporta l ' a f f e c t i o n presque paternelle q u ' i l avait vou!e au precedent et subvint •126- a ses besoins pendant s i x ans. Les deux hommes habite*rent d'abord rue Cassette^ puis quai Malaquais; i l f a i s a i t passer Lucien pour son f i l s naturel. Apres avoir vainement tente de l'eioigner de l a courtisane Esther Gobseck q u ' i l jugeait n u i s i b l e a ses projets, i l f i n i t par consentir a l a l u i l a i s s - er pour maitresse, tout en intruigant dans 1'ombre pour l u i manager un riche mariage avec C l o t i l d e de Grandlieu. Vers 1829, ses ressources commencant a s'e'puiser, i l de'cide "de vendre" Esther Gobseck au baron de Nucingen et dut se lxvrer a une serie de manoeuvres qui attireicent 1'attention de l a police. I l p r i t un moment le pseudonyme de William Barker, riche ne"gociant anglais, dans le but d'extorquer une signa- ture a Ceriset dont i l connaissait l e passe. Sur l e point d'aboutir, ses projets furent contrecarres par l a p o l i c e , alerte*e par Nucingen, au de*but de 1830. Le 13 mai 1830, Lucien de Rubemprl £tait arrete sur l a route de Fontainebleau, et lui-meme a Paris, puis e'croue's \ l a Conciergerie sous 1'inculpation de v o l et d'assassinat sur l a personne d'Esther Gobseck (S&M). En cet extreme danger, cet homme extraordinaire parvenait encore a sauver l a s i t u a t i o n et e v i t a i t l a peine capitale a son ancien camarade de bagne Madeleine, "pour lequel i l confectionnait jadis de s i belles patarasses". D^tenteur de l e t t r e s d'amour qui compromettait gravement l'honneur de plusieurs families de haiate noblesse, i l t r a i t a presque d'igal & e'gal avec le procureur general, M. de Granville en vue de leur r e s t i t u t i o n . II ne put malheureusement empecher l e suicide de c e l u i q u ' i l aimait comme f i l s , l e f a i b l e Lucien de Rubempre' (S&M). Corentin le demanda comme second, mais i l refusa cette offre dangereuse, se trouvant separ^ de l u i "par t r o i s longeurs de cadavres", et devint 1'adjoint de Bibi-Lupin sous le nom de Vautrin. A l a f i n de 1830, i l l e remplacait a l a t£te de l a police de suret^, place q u ' i l occupa pendant quinze ans: i l p r i t sa r e t r a i t e en 1845 (S&M). -127- Dans ses nouvelles fonctions, i l s'acquitta admirablement de sa ta'che, et en quelques mois i l avait f a i t arrester les assa- ssins des r e n t i e r s Crottat (S&M). En 1843, chef de l a p o l i c e de Surete, i l recevait l a v i s i t e du depute V i c t o r i n Hulot qui l e p r i a i t de del>ar<rasser sa f a m i l l e de Mme. Crevel. I l y consentit et quelques mois plus tard, ddguise' en"pauvre pr£tre", i l se presentait au domicile du depute", l u i reclamant l a somme convenue, quarante m i l l e francs, "pour i(tune) oeuvre pie, un couvent ruine* dans l e Levant". Banquier des t r o i s bagnes, "dab" des Dix-Mille et des Grands Fanande1s, V a i t r i n e t a i t unifoersellement connu dans le monde de l a pe"gre sous le par- lant pseudonyme de Trompe-la-Mort (S&M-PG). I l fut tres probablement l'un des"TreizeV. On l i t en e f f e t , dans l a Preface aux Treize : "Un jour l'un d'eux, apr^s avoir l u Venise sauvge ( l i v r e que Jacques C o l l i n se vantait de "savoir par coeur") et admire* l'union sublime de Pierre et de J a f f i e r (...) v i n t a songer aux vertus p a r t i c u l i e r e s des gens jetes en dehors de l'ordre s o c i a l , a l a probite' des bagnes, etc." Cette supposition est corrobore'e par l e f a i t que le comte Henri de Marsay, autre Treize, e t a i t f o r t au courant des a c t i v - i t e s de Vautrin, comme nous l'apprend dams une l e t t r e , e'crite sur un ton mi-badin mi-se'rieux, a* Paul de Manerville (CM). Comme beaucoup de bagnards, Jacques C o l l i n "n'aimait pas les femmes" (PG) et appartenait au "troisieme sexe" (S&M). II xi m'etait toutefois devenu homosexuel qu'en 1800, a l'age de v vingt et un ans, apres une vive deception sentimentale, "ayant cru \ 1'amour d'une femme qui le bafoua" (PG). I I re- porta alors son a f f e c t i o n sur le jeune I t a l i e n (Franchessini), pour lequel i l endossa l a responsabilite" du faux en ecriture qui devait le conduire pour l a premiere f o i s au bagne. Vautrin savait tout f a i r e et, i l e'tait t r ^ s f o r t t i r e u r au p i s t o l e t : "A trente-cinq pas, ±1 mettait cinq f o i s de suite sa b a l l e dans un as de pique...en renfoncant chaque b a l l e nouvelle sur 1'autre.." Son r^ve e t a i t de devenir planteur en Floride...(PG). Peut- etre le r ^ a l i s e r a - t - i l apre*s avoir p r i s sa r e t r a i t e .

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