Desire and Persecution in Therese Desqueroux and Other Selected Novels by Francois Mauriac

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This study is a Girardian analysis of François Mauriac’s Thérèse Desqueyroux which reintegrates Thérèse’s act of violence into the hostile conditions in which she lived, suggesting that Thérèse, though an oppressor herself, is largely a persecuted victim in the story that bears her name. A careful analysis of the antagonistic relationship between Thérèse and Anne de La Trave confirms René Girard’s belief that great novelists, such as Mauriac, are instinctively aware of the mimetic nature of human desiring. Moreover, a detailed examination of two unrelated novels, Le sagouin (The Little Misery) and L’agneau (The Lamb), as well as discussion of other selected novels, further reveal that scapegoating is an important, though largely unexplored feature in Mauriac’s fiction.


“With so many books, chapters and articles devoted to Mauriac’s novel, it is rare for scholars to discover a genuinely original line of interpretation. Yet this is precisely what Dr. Timothy Williams has managed to do in this book ... His book represents an important contribution to Mauriac studies and deserves to be widely read.” – Dr. Paul Cooke, Associate Professor of French, University of Exeter

“Dr. Williams uses Girard’s concepts of the sacrificial scapegoat and the cultural mimetic nature of desire to expose how Mauriac’s and Girard’s views could be reconciled with further consideration of textual violence ... Through his investigation, Dr. Williams reminds readers not only why Thérèse Desqueyroux will forever be known as an excellent and typical Mauriacian novel, but also teaches them how to look at Mauriac in a different light.” – Dr. Guy F. Imhoff, Associate Professor of French, Department of Modern Languages, St. Bonaventure University

“This study offers a fresh and highly stimulating analysis of Mauriac’s greatest novel, Thérèse Desqueyroux, and of its compelling, enigmatic heroine ... The book is a significant contribution to Mauriac scholarship. Highly readable and consistently insightful, it is valuable for its larger ideas and its specific analyses.” – Professor Raymond N. MacKenzie, Department of English, University of St. Thomas

"Scholarly and very readable book." - New Zealand Journal of French Studies

Table of Contents

Note on Translations
Introduction: The Question of Motive: Thérèse and the Poisoning of Bernard
1 Critical Approaches to Thérèse Desqueyroux
2 Scapegoat Theory and Thérèse Desqueyroux
3 Les Landes: A Land of Mimetic Desire
4 Thérèse and Anne: Mauriac’s Mimetic Rivals
5 Stories of Persecution: Hostility in Mauriac’s Landais Communities
6 Le sagouin: Child Abuse and Scapegoating
7 L’agneau: The Persecution of a Christ Figure
8 A Vulnerable Idol: Thérèse, Object of Admiration and Envy
9 Suffocation and Disappearance: The Fate of Scapegoats in the Landes
10 Crisis and Crime: Fire, Felony and Forgery
11 Thérèse the Scapegoat
Conclusion: Girard and Mauriac, Apocalyptic
Works Cited or Consulted
Index of the Works of François Mauriac
Index of the Works of René Girard
Index of Secondary Sources

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