Donata Meneghelli

Balzac’s Objects: Between Sign and Presence

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Keywords: La Comédie humaine, Material Culture, Sign, Object, Subjectivity.

Many critics have stressed the unprecedented attention bestowed to (and the centrality acquired by) material artifacts in Balzac’s novels. This essay questions and problematizes this critical assumption by highlighting the many ambivalences that are at play in Balzac’s materialistic stance and the paramount role played, in the narrative universe of La Comédie humaine, by objects as signs that always stand for something else, beyond their immediate materiality and their simply “being thereµ. Along these lines, the essays explores the complex dialectics between sign and presence, objects and things, the object and the subject, in the wake of the industrial revolution, the emerging consumer society, and the dramatic social changes of the first decades of the nineteenth century

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