Legend of Gilles De Rais (1404-1440) in the Writings of Huysmans, Bataille, Planchon, and Tournier

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This study examines the literary representations of Gilles de Rais, serial-killer, devout Christian and Maréchal de France. After briefly summarizing the historical outlines of Rais’ life, it examines four literary encounters (Huysmans’ Là-bas (1891), Bataille’s Le Procès de Gilles de Rais (1965), Planchon’s Gilles de Rais (1975), Tournier’s Gilles et Jeanne (1985)) to reveal how certain issues of modern aesthetics and ethics are elucidated and problematized.


“As this insightful and wide-ranging study shows, the interpretive battle over Gilles de Rais did not end in 1900…it continued to rage unabated, at the very heart of literary modernism, throughout the twentieth century….Historians of the twentieth-century avant-garde owe Val Morgan an immense debt of gratitude for the meticulous manner in which she has prised apart the different strands of the various arguments that separate and bind together writers, theoreticians and playwrights as diverse as J.-K. Huysmans, Georges Bataille, Roger Planchon, and Michel Tournier.” – Terry Hale, Research Fellow and Project Leader at the Centre for Translation Studies, University of Hull

“Ms. Morgan has tackled her topic with great learning and with a high degree of sophisticated philosophical speculation on the issues which the late-medieval scandal of Rais insists on our considering.” – Dr. Jonathan White, University of Essex

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Foreword; Preface; Introduction
1. Huysman’s Gilles de Rais: A Model of Decadent Poetics
2. Bataille’s Gilles de Rais: An Allegory of Modernity
3. Planchon’s Gilles de Rais: A Modern Miracle Play
4. Tournier’s Gilles de Rais: A Postmodern Tale
5. Concluding Remarks
Appendix I: Gilles de Retz by Sidney Keyes
Appendix II: Synopsis of Gilles De Rais by John Burgess
Bibliography; Index

Other France/French: All Subjects Books