Colloques & Conferences de l'Universite Lyon 2, "Rewriting / Reprising" - La reprise en litterature

'Back therefore to my darkening path again!' The Victorian dramatic monologue as a new Nekyia

Jean-Charles Perquin

Dernière modification: 2007-06-26


If we think about Victorian literature and culture, the word Nekyia is certainly not the first that comes to mind. And yet, what I intend to show in this paper is the fact that the age-old Nekyia is not only highly present in Victorian poetry, but it is also one of its main sources of inspiration, if not one of its central aesthetic structures and modes of artistic production. What is more, the concept of reprise is itself quite relevant to the perilous journey the Nekyia traditionally stands for. Indeed, this ?reprise? of the classical Nekyia is in itself a journey through words themselves inviting to another journey. In other words, the Victorian rewriting of the Nekyia is actually nothing but a way of revisiting the Nekyia, that world-famous part of the Odyssey in which the text relates the journey of Odysseus to the underworld in order to consult the soul of Teiresias about the best means to get back home. In spite of what has very often been described as a voyage down to the subterranean parts of the world, the actual Nekyia is but a horizontal voyage, an expedition across the ocean. Here lies the main difference with another traditional journey down to the Hades, i.e. the catabasis. The rewriting/revisiting of both the Nekyia and the catabasis was a powerful matrix for literary composition in the Victorian age, and it also was a fundamentally original way of reconsidering poetry and the questions of truth and voice in Victorian poetry

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