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Narrative Improvisations: Balzack’s ‘Facino Cane’


Triple Keywords
Composition (Art)
Political representation
Representative government and representation
Parliamentary government
Number concept
Western art (Western countries)
Arts, Fine
Fine arts
Art, Visual
Arts, Visual
Occidental art
Visual arts
Art, Occidental
Art, Western (Western countries)


In this discussion intended to complement existing studies of Facino Cane, it is argued that Balzac’s short narrative is the product of a persistent reflection on storytelling and on the status of the composition as writing. Balzac is shown to make extensive reference to a range of other texts including Les Mille et Une Nuits and Dante’s Inferno, while his representation of the blind musicians is shown to relate similarly to a prominent literary and graphic tradition that begins with Montesquieu and takes in, for example, L.-S. Mercier, E. de Jouy, and contemporary Parisian guidebooks. There follows an examination of the distinctive play on proper names and of the way the text is generated by a select number of associative chains. It is claimed that the perceptible ambiguities of the composition stem from this self-reflexive and ludic art of improvisation.

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