The order of mimesis : Balzac, Stendhal, Nerval, Flaubert


The order of mimesis : Balzac, Stendhal, Nerval, Flaubert

Christopher Prendergast

(Cambridge studies in French)

Cambridge University Press, 1986

  • : pbk

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Bibliography: p. 282-284

Includes index



This book is a challenging investigation of the idea of literary mimesis in the light of contemporary literary theory. Drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives developed in and around the work of Barthes, Kristeva, Genette and Derrida, Dr Prendergast explores approaches to the concept of mimesis and relates these to a number of narrative texts produced in the period which literary history familiarly designates as the age of realism: Balzac's Illusions Perdues and Splendeurs et Miseres des Courtisanes, Stendhal's Le Rouge et le Noir, Nerval's Sylvie and Flaubert's L'Education Sentimentale. The book is not merely expository however: one of the author's aims is to engage with much of the polemical debate which has surrounded the topic, in the belief that a recognition of the historical conditions determining both the theory and practice of mimesis must be recovered.


  • General editors preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • 1. The order of mimesis: poison, nausea, health
  • 2. The economy of mimesis
  • 3. Balzac: narrative contracts
  • 4. Stendhal: the ethics of verisimilitude
  • 5. Nerval: the madness of mimesis
  • 6. Flaubert: the stupidity of mimesis
  • 7. Conclusion: mimesis, a matter for the police?
  • Notes
  • Translations
  • Select bibliography
  • Index.

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