Astarte decadente (brevi note su Monsieur de Phocas)


  • Liana Nissim


Decadent Astarte (short notes on Monsieur de Phocas)After a synthetic introduction to some critics’ judgements of Lorrainand his works, this essay focuses on Monsieur de Phocas. It studiesthe myth of Astarte, a myth that has been neglected by the critics, butwhich reveals its great importance in the novel. Under the influenceof the goddess Tanit in Salammbô, Lorrain neglects Astarte’s siderealfacet, insisting on her luxurious one instead, which is connected withan obsession about emerald-like eyes and an irrepressible murderousdesire; these are the main characteristics of the hero’s neurosis, and theperverse clues of his need of Ideal. Featuring in the novel as a beautiful,disturbing statuette, Astarte is connected with the heterogeneous,syncretic, fin-de-siècle collecting, transforming the romantic exoticisminto an opulent interior exoticism. The mythological figuration is perfectedin the protagonist’s room, in her final apparition a symbol ofthe decadent Beauty-Death binomial. It is a revelation of the absolutenothingness triggering the progressive evanescence of the character ofMonsieur Phocas, emblematic novel of Decadentism.