Medieval Saints in Late Nineteenth Century French Culture

Eight Essays

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About the Book

Legends, tales, and mysteries featuring saints captivated the French at the end of the nineteenth century. As Jean Lorrain pointed out in an 1891 article for the popular weekly Le Courrier Français, the seemingly simple language of the saints’ lives, their noble battles between good and evil and the atmosphere of religious mysticism appealed to many, especially those involved in the visual and performing arts. Ironically The Third Republic (1870–1940), a regime that claimed to reinforce and institute the secular ideas of the French Revolution, was witness to this great popular interest in the saints and religious imagery.
The eight essays in this work explore the popularity of the saints from the 1850s to the 1920s. The essays evaluate the role they played in literature, art, music, science, history and politics, examine portrayals of the saints’ lives in both low and high culture (from children’s literature, shadow plays and the popular press to literature, opera and theological studies), and reveal the prevalence of the saints in fin-de-siècle France.

About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Emery, an associate professor of French at Montclair State University, lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
Laurie Postlewate is a senior lecturer in French at Barnard College and lives in New York.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Elizabeth Emery and Laurie Postlewate
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 258
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1769-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction       1

PART ONE
SAINTS AS INSPIRATION FOR ART, LITERATURE AND MUSIC
1. “Sur un vitrail d’église”: Structures and Sources in Flaubert’s “Légende de Saint Julien l’Hospitalier”      13
2. When the Saints Go Marching In: Popular Performances of La Tentation de Saint Antoine and Sainte Geneviève de Paris at the Chat Noir Shadow Theater      25

PART TWO
THE “SCIENTIFIC” EXAMINATION OF SAINTS’ VISIONS
3. Odilon Redon’s Temptation of Saint Anthony Lithographs      47
4. The Golden Legend in the Fin de Siècle: Zola’s Le Rêve and Its Reception      83

PART THREE
THE STRUGGLE TO RECONTEXTUALIZE HAGIOGRAPHY
5. Translatio Lidwinae: The Adaptation of Medieval Sources in Huysmans’ Sainte Lydwine de Schiedam      119
6. Discourse on Method: Hippolyte Delehaye’s Légendes hagiographiques      139

PART FOUR
HAGIOGRAPHY AND THE CULT OF THE NATION
7. Polychromatic Piety: Saints According to Anatole France      163
8. Unofficial and Secular Saint in Integral Nationalist Discourse: Maurice Barrès’ Literary Jeanne d’Arc      195

Conclusion      223
Select Bibliography of Secondary Sources      237
About the Contributors      243
Index      245

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Well-selected essays…fascinating collection”—History: Reviews of New Books.