The Return to Rome: Desire and Loss in Staël’s <i>Corinne</i>

Catharine Edwards

in Romans and Romantics

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199588541
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741845 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

The Return to Rome: Desire and Loss in Staël’s Corinne

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Dennis Porter's Lacanian study of travel writing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries offers a provocative account of Rome's significance for male travellers: ‘Rome was the mystified ground of a European phallocentric order and of its hegemonic power’. But what space do such discourses — whether of patriarchal affirmation or oedipal rebellion — allow for women writers? Staël's hugely popular and influential work Corinne was recognised by her contemporaries as both travelogue and novel. In Staël's writing too, this chapter suggests, the family romance has a crucial role to play — the relationship between parent and child figures with particular prominence in Corinne, mediating the protagonists' responses to Rome in critical ways. Other women travellers, also, often model themselves on Staël's heroine. While these women sometimes evince a sense of entitlement to the legacy of ancient Rome, for them, as for Corinne, it remains contingent and uncertain.

Keywords: Corinne; patriarchal; Staël; travel; travel writing; women

Chapter.  8297 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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