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On Fathers and Feuilletonistes: Creativity and Paternity in Balzac's La Muse du département

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-538
JournalFrench Studies
Issue number4
Early online date29 Aug 2018
Accepted/In press17 Apr 2018
E-pub ahead of print29 Aug 2018
Published1 Oct 2018


King's Authors

Research Groups

  • French


The iconography of Balzac often presents him as paradigmatic of a model of phallic creativity, his theory and practice of the novel seen as exemplifying the patriarchal idea of the author as father. This article demonstrates that this view of Balzac needs to be revised through an examination of his 1843 novel, La Muse du département, which combines a story of adultery with a jaundiced depiction of literary labour and creative exhaustion, exploring what becomes of the idea of the author as father in a society with a weakened paternal order. Through examining the metaphoric link the novel establishes between the narrative of adultery and the representation of literary creation, the article develops a meta-poetic reading of the relationship between biological and literary paternity, analysing how the formal characteristics of the novel refract anxieties about the erosion of paternal authority in July Monarchy France.

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