'Rêverie' in the work of Stendhal : its significance as a recurrent theme and a structuring element
The thesis examines the theme of reverie in the work of Stendhal, seeking to illustrate, firstly, its significance in the context of his work as a whole, and, secondly, its function in the major novels. Part I considers the occurrence, of reverie throughout the Stendhalian corpus. A comparative study of adjuncts to reverie in Stendhal and Rousseau is undertaken in Chapter One, emphasising the similar sensibility and, at the same time, the individuality of the two authors. Chapter Two deals with the personal and environmental factors conditioning the onset of reverie. Certain adjuncts to reverie are discussed in Chapters Three and Four, in order to underline the very personal nature of Stendhal's reaction, firstly, to nature and, secondly, to the arts. An analysis of categories of reverie undertaken in Chapter Five demonstrates the richness and complexity of the theme and examines some of the synonyms involved. Part II investigates the role of reverie in the fictional work of Stendhal. Chapter Six examines its function in the characterization, structure and denouement of Armance. The rather differen. part played by reverie in the structure and denouement of Le Rouge et le Noir is shown in Chapter Seven, while Chapter Eight suggests reasons why the role of reverie in Lucien Leuwen is less important than in the other major novels. Chapter Nine concentrates on the structural function of reverie in La Chartreuse de Panne and on its contribution to the elegiac atmosphere of the work. The significance of reverie in what we possess of Larniel is assessed in Chapter Ten. In the Conclusion, the main findings from the investigation are discussed. Reverie is seen to be an important theme in the fictional works of Stendhal. By stamping the term with his peculiar brand of irony, Stendhal gives his own dimension to the word reverie. The most significant result to arise from an approach to the novels via reverie concerns structure: a definite pattern emerges in the novels and the term is recurrent in Stendhal's thought, to the extent of forming a vertebral column in his work. Indeed, Stendhalian literary creation is found to be an escape into, and at the same time a development from, reverie. The thesis shows that each of Stendhal's novels closes on an optimistic note, with the triumph, despite the bleakness of the world outside, of the dream itself, surely the most complete and the most perfect experience of reverie.