Title

A Quest for Wholeness and Healing: The Eternal Voyage of Mélusine des détritus

Subject Area

French and Francophone Studies

Abstract

Chantal Chawaf has long explored an “écriture du corps” designed to counteract the dominant masculine discourse she views as cut off from the body and from instinct. Echoing Carl Jung, she finds that the rejection of the body and the unconscious leads to harmful divisions within the individual psyche and beyond, fomenting violence, war and destruction. Chawaf seeks to heal these schisms by fusing flesh and word, matter and spirit, conscious and unconscious, masculine and feminine. In Mélusine des detritus (2001) she suggests that the failure to achieve this uniting work could lead to our annihilation. Although Chawaf’s novels consistently involve an inner voyage of discovery, here she relates the literal voyage of Jean and Mélusine as they attempt to escape the polluted air that ravages Mélusine’s lungs. This essay offers a close analysis of the mythical content and archetypal imagery permeating their quest, shown as a representation of humankind struggling to save a dying planet, an initiation of man into the feminine, and an allegorical representation of the process of individuation required to return to the body, nature, and the feminine their inestimable value. It will be shown that throughout the novel, both Mélusine and Chawaf take on the role of archetypal spiritual guides in a voyage toward healing.

Brief Bio Note

Dr. Nannette Mosley received her PhD in Romance Languages from the University of Georgia in 2012. She presently serves as the French Language Supervisor at that institution. Her specialization is 20th and 21st century French and Spanish literature, and her primary research interest involves the exploration of the role and meaning of myth in modern narrative. Her dissertation examined the presence of the French medieval myth of Mélusine in four modern novels; this myth is addressed in the present essay.

Keywords

Chantal Chawaf, Carl Jung, Archetypal imagery, Spiritual guide, Allegory, Environmental destruction, Mélusine des détritus, Écriture du corps

Location

Room 221

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-26-2015 10:30 AM

End Date

3-26-2015 11:45 AM

Embargo

5-23-2017

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Mar 26th, 10:30 AM Mar 26th, 11:45 AM

A Quest for Wholeness and Healing: The Eternal Voyage of Mélusine des détritus

Room 221

Chantal Chawaf has long explored an “écriture du corps” designed to counteract the dominant masculine discourse she views as cut off from the body and from instinct. Echoing Carl Jung, she finds that the rejection of the body and the unconscious leads to harmful divisions within the individual psyche and beyond, fomenting violence, war and destruction. Chawaf seeks to heal these schisms by fusing flesh and word, matter and spirit, conscious and unconscious, masculine and feminine. In Mélusine des detritus (2001) she suggests that the failure to achieve this uniting work could lead to our annihilation. Although Chawaf’s novels consistently involve an inner voyage of discovery, here she relates the literal voyage of Jean and Mélusine as they attempt to escape the polluted air that ravages Mélusine’s lungs. This essay offers a close analysis of the mythical content and archetypal imagery permeating their quest, shown as a representation of humankind struggling to save a dying planet, an initiation of man into the feminine, and an allegorical representation of the process of individuation required to return to the body, nature, and the feminine their inestimable value. It will be shown that throughout the novel, both Mélusine and Chawaf take on the role of archetypal spiritual guides in a voyage toward healing.