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Mystik und Gewalt in Gustave Flauberts ‚La Légende de saint Julien l’Hospitalier‘

Steffen Schneider

Pages 53 - 74

‘The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller’ is full of religious elements alluding to the tradition of mysti-cism. The present article analyzes the functions of these elements on different levels of the text: at first, mysticism serves as a means to construct the action and to depict the protagonist (i.e. his passage from the warrior to the ascetic saint); furthermore it provides the semantic field of the hunt which al-ready served as metaphor for the quest of the absolute in the Song of songs. Finally, mysticism is linked to the author’s interest in pathology: Flaubert offers an ambiguous image of the saint’s life. The latter can indeed be considered as a true saint only on a very superficial level. Given Julian’s disposi-tion to delirium, the objective reality of his visions cannot be taken for granted. Moreover, Flaubert makes a double use of the mystic elements: on the one hand he inverts their original sense in order to delete the edifying dimension of the story; on the other hand, he mobilizes the religious energy contai-ned in the tradition of mysticism to attack the reactionary devotion of his contemporaries.


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