Vampires and Swashbucklers: Identity Theft in Paul Féval’s La Ville-vampire and Le Bossu

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Presented at Southeast Coastal Conference on Languages & Literatures

France’s revolution of 1789 marks a dramatic change in what it would mean to be a Frenchman. Under the rule of the Ancien Régime, the division of classes clearly delineated the rank and role of individuals as belonging either to the privileged nobility, the clergy, or the much larger tiers états. With the rise of the bourgeoisie, there is likewise a rise in the works that treat identity, often allowing it to have ephemeral traits. Identity becomes pliable and exchangeable. The romantics demonstrated the change in identity often with their heroes transcending class norms established which are still very prevalent within the classical movement. Victor Hugo’s theatrical works Hernani and Ruy Blas both showcase a protagonist who takes upon himself a new name reflecting the new identity he has chosen, living above or below the class to which he was born. Other well-known works of the nineteenth-century whose tale hinges on the role of identity are Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, Cyrano de Bergerac, and again from Hugo Les Misérables. However, lesser known works have likewise taken to heart the fleeting nature of identity, moving beyond a name serving as a label for identity and allowing the identity itself to be, at times forcibly, appropriated by another. This paper will examine the role of identity in Paul Féval’s works La Ville-vampire and Le Bossu, two tales which represent different genres (one being a fantastic narrative and the other a swashbuckling tale) and which in their own right are reflective of the identity crisis France experienced following their revolution.


Southeast Coastal Conference on Languages & Literatures


Savannah, GA