Chapter

Democracy and Masochism: Zola's Bonheur

Peter Starr

in Commemorating Trauma

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226030
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240920 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823226030.003.0007
Democracy and Masochism: Zola's Bonheur

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The principal focus in this chapteris on the masochistic suffering of the increasingly allegorical figure of Denise Baudu. In light of this diagnostic affinity, Denise's willing to suffer can be read in two complementary ways. It functions as a displaced response to that sense of collective melancholy which La Débâcle would show to have followed the experiences of the Terrible Year. But it also places Denise squarely in the lineage, in ways examined here, of that all-suffering Mama Republic of which Clovis Hugues, founding editor of the Commune-era La Voix du peuple (The People's Voice), speaks in the second epigraph above. Denise's suffering, in short, both augurs and does the work of a certain social, even “socialist,” futurity—as if answering in advance that melancholic bind to which La Débâcle's Maurice Levasseur would come to be subject.

Keywords: masochism; democracy; Denise Baudu; La Débâcle; Mama Republic; Clovis Hugues; The People's Voice; Maurice Levasseur

Chapter.  8433 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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