D — Photo du film de Jacques Rivette, Ne touchez pas la hache, Quelle vision de la relation amoureuse chacun des trois textes propose-t-il? Comment Jacques Rivette document D rend-il compte des rapports entre les deux personnages du roman de Balzac? Ma femme de chambre pourrait vous entendre. Respectez-moi, je vous prie. Puis, que signifie votre je veux?

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Some time after the Napoleonic Wars, a French general arrives on a sparsely populated Spanish island in the Mediterranean perhaps one of the Balearic Isles looking for someone.

With the help of the Thirteen, he has been searching for five years across several continents for the woman he loves, who took the veil after a torrid love affair with him. The general arranges to attend mass, straining his eyes to look past the opening in the curtain revealing tantalizing glimpses of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in attendance. As soon as the peals of the organ begin, the general knows it is she. There is something French about her music and selection of airs, something that the general, whom we learn is called Armand, recognizes almost like a signature.

With some difficulty, he requests an interview the next day with the nun who played the organ. He asks the convent chaplain who indicates the difficulty of such an interview, but who promises to talk with the Mother Superior about his seeing Sister Therese for that is her name as a religious.

He gets his permission. The interview is to be conducted through a grille with the Mother Superior present. When the latter asks her whether she knows the gentleman, Sister Therese says yes and is immediately ordered back to her cell. She then lies, saying the general is her brother.

He asks Antoinette — for that is her real name — to come away with him. At this point, the nun turns to her Mother Superior and admits that she lied, and the man had been her lover.

The curtain comes down and the two nuns vanish into the convent. Balzac provides us with a long meditation on the nobility of this relatively new neighborhood. Without this triple might, all privilege vanishes. The popular classes, like women, love to see strength in those who govern them. Where they do not respect they cannot love. They will not accord obedience to those who cannot impose it.

It had reversed the very conditions safeguarding its existence. At the age of 18, she married the Duc de Langeais. This does not bode well for the future. The lonely Duchesse attends some festivities occasioned by the marriage of the Duc de Berry. There she meets one Armand de Montriveau, who is in demand for his adventures in Africa.

His shyness was mistaken for haughtiness and went down well. She invites him to come up and see her sometime. I wish I could discover in you the instinct, the tactfulness of true friendship, so that I lose neither your esteem nor the pleasure that I feel in having you near me.

Now for a quick reminder that the Duchesse de Langeais is married to the Duc de Langeais, who is off somewhere tasting of exotic pleasures of every variety. This goes on for some time. To keep him at the end of her puppet string, Antoinette gives some small token intimacy to keep Armande coming back, but then she shoves him away and requests that he come less often. She really would appreciate him more for it! Finally, she plays the religion card and starts berating Armande for being a Godless Liberal.

This provokes a crisis in their relationship, such as it is. Antoinette has done a pretty thorough job of turning her Armande into something of a laughingstock.

For many pages, we have seen no one outside the two except for a couple of bit players. Now, Armande runs into his fellow member of the Thirteen, M de Ronquerolles. They have made a compromise with nature. Parish-church discipline has permitted them almost everything short of actual adultery.

The dainties to which your duchess treats you are venial sins which she washes off in the waters of penance. If I went in for a woman of her kind [which he most emphatically does not], I should make this my aim…. She is upset at this and lets him know. He is acting now under a different plan, however. Still, his duchess holds out on him. Armande is undeterred. He definitely has something nasty up his sleeve. Steel for steel; we will see.

By his recent behavior, Armande has clearly spooked the Duchesse de Langeais. Now this is also the original name of this book: Touch Not the Axe. Smoking a cigar, Armande informs her that she can scream if she wishes, but that no one would hear her. Off in the next room, three masked men are operating a bellows to make a fire flare up. Armand threatens to have Antoinette branded in the forehead like a galley slave with the Cross of Lorraine.

Remain true to your nature. You had no qualms while you watched the tortures of the heart you were breaking. No more tears, Madame, console yourself. I am now beyond suffering. Others will tell you that you have brought them to life. I have the exquisite pleasure of telling you that you have brought me to annihilation. He even has her returned to the ball unharmed. After having kidnapped her and returned her unharmed, Armande de Montriveau drops out of sight. This is unfortunate for Antoinette, because oh classical bad timing!

She writes him daily, but he never writes back. Finally, she decides to sacrifice her reputation in a vain attempt to catch his eye. She has her servant drive her carriage to his quarters and sit there all day in plain view. As the Duchesse is titled nobility, the carriage is emblazoned with her family arms. Instead of Armande, it is her family that suddenly sits up and takes notice. But when you take a lover, must you really make your bed in the public thoroughfare? We return to the scene at the beginning of the book.

At the end of the interview, Sister T admits to her chaperon that Armand had been her lover. The curtain celebrating the nuns from the visitor drops and then … It is now several days later. Armand has gotten together a party of bravos to help him kidnap the nun.

They ascend the steep cliff of the convent from a boat anchored nearby and break into the convent. They enter only to find … a funeral service in progress. And the body belongs to none other than … Sister Therese. No matter, Armand wants her dead or alive why? They carry the body to the edge and lower it into the boat.

Now she is nothing. We will tie a cannon-ball to each of her feet and throw her overboard. Think no more of her than we think of a book we read in our childhood. From now on be content with passion. Love is an investment which we should think out cautiously. And only the last love of a woman can satisfy the first love of a man.


La duchesse de Langeais



Contexte Historique De La Duchesse De Langeais dissertations et fiches de lecture


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