The image of Spain in non-dramatic French literature from Chateaubriand to Montherlant, 1800-1936 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in French at Massey University, New Zealand
Since Morel-Fatio's Etudes sur l'Espagne (1885), there have been several studies of the influence of Spain on the literature of France, particularly by those scholars who have been associated with the growth of Hispanic studies in France. There have been many studies of the influence of Spain on individual authors. Martinenche's le Romantisme et l'Espagne (1922) deals at length with the drama and with the influence of Spain on French lyric poetry; Hoffmann's Romantique Espagne (1961) is another significant contribution although it concentrates on minor authors and makes no distinction between the récit de voyage and imaginative works. There is, however, no study of the image of Spain over the complex period from 1800 to 1936 in terms of the general attitude of French authors to Spain and the function of Spanish themes and images in the genres of poetry and the novel. The object of the present study is to establish and where possible to analyse the conception of Spain which imaginative literature in French offered to the reading public of the period 1800 to 1936. The works examined are those of major French authors of prose and poetry, although occasional reference is made for comparative purposes to lesser writers. The formative influence of the récit de voyage is considered but the images presented in this genre are not examined per se. Drama is not included. As background to the discussion of the image of Spain, social and political links between the two countries are outlined and the influence of Spanish literature on the general literary climate is taken into account where appropriate. Three aspects of the image of Spain are examined. The thesis investigates first the presentation of landscape from Chateaubriand to modern times exploring its treatment by Romantics and later nineteenth-century writers; it argues that the full implications of Chateaubriand's attitude were realised only in the twentieth century, in particular by Montherlant and Peyré. The thesis then examines the treatment of Spanish character in French literature and two aspects of life in Spain, namely toreo and music, which manifest national characteristics. Similar changes in the treatment of these two latter aspects are traced. The images of toreo and music, for instance, are sometimes vehicles for psychological analysis and sometimes are closely allied, as in the writings of Montherlant, to themes of sexuality, religion or adolescence. Discussion of these aspects is pursued with reference to the years 1800-1850, 1850-1890, and 1890-1936. There are introductory sections on the antecedent situation and on Chateaubriand. The concluding section argues that since the image of Spain projected by the "imagination collective" of an age is subject to preconceived ideas, illusions, prejudice and literary fashion, it is not fruitful to examine these matters with any expectation of finding 'the best image'; Montherlant's image of Spain is not 'better' than Mérimée's. The more 'symbolist' approach of modern poetry is reflected in the novel where cadre and décor are more closely linked to character development and action than in Romantic works in which the brilliance of purely exotic aspects of the cadre dominate. In general terms, however, one may conclude that the place of Spain and Spanish themes and images play a vital role in the broad conception of 'la condition humaine' and that the function of these has changed in harmony with the general trends of French literature. A further aim of this study is to make some contribution to the compilation of a bibliography related to the image of Spain in French literature, thus continuing the work of Baldensperger and Friederich (1950, rev. 1960) and Hoffman (1961).