3. Between spiritualism and materialisme

Bénédicte Percheron

Gustave Flaubert, Oeuvres complètes, Tome IV, La Tentation de Saint Antoine, (1856), Paris, L. Conard, 1910, pp. 599-600.

´Some give birth, others copulate, or devour one another in one bite; packed and squeezed together, suffocating under their own numbers, multiplying as they come into contact, they climb all over each other. And this mounts up forming pyramids, a complex pile of diverse bodies, each of which stirs with its own particular motion, while the whole oscillates, rumbles and glistens in an atmosphere streaked by hail, snow, rain and lightning, where sand storms, whirlwinds and smoke clouds sweep by, and which is also illuminated by glimmers of moonlight, rays of sunshine and a greenish twilight.´

Gustave Flaubert, Œuvres complètes, Tome IV, La Tentation de Saint Antoine (1874), Paris, L. Conard, 1910, pp. 197-198.

´Some give birth, others copulate, or devour one another in one bite. Suffocating under their own numbers, multiplying as they come into contact, they climb over one another; and move about Anthony with a surging motion as though the ground were the deck of a ship. He feels the trail of snails upon the calves of his legs, the chill of vipers upon his hands; and spiders spinning about him enclose him within their web. But the monstrous circle breaks, parts, and the sky suddenly becomes blue; and



In 1849 and 1856, in the midst of a Flood, the monsters formed moving pyramids. For the 1874 edition, the text was completely revised using scientific and philosophical concepts that had been circulated in the 1860s and early 1870s, while the allusion to the Flood disappeared. On the other hand, in this passage, Flaubert introduces a unicorn. He notes in one of his scenarios the meaning of this fabulous animal: ´attraction of stupidity´ (La Tentation de Saint Antoine, 1874, ms. N.a.f. 23671, f° 226 v°). According to Jean Seznec, he reused the description of the animal given by Samuel Bochart in Hierozoicon (1663), a work cited by F.-A. Pouchet in the late 1830s. It is possible that the naturalist may have given Flaubert advice on his reading (see the list drawn up by Jean Seznec).

Excerpt   from   a  zoology   note  by   F.-A.  Pouchet.   Traced  copy  made  from  Samuel  Bochart, Hierozoicon, sive, bipertitum opus De animalibus Sacrae Scripturae, Vol. 1, London, Excudebat Tho.  Roycroft …  impensis  Jo. Martin & Jac.   Allestry, 1663, p. 957.  Archives  of  the  Muséum  d’histoire  naturelle  de  Rouen, FAP 1203, ´antilopes,  Licorne´.

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biolog (2018, 19 novembre). 3. Between spiritualism and materialisme. Biolographes. Consulté le 22 avril 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/m1qy

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