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Mazeppa's horse: A case of Anglo-French intertextuality (Voltaire-Byron-Hugo)

Sibona, Bruno; (1998) Mazeppa's horse: A case of Anglo-French intertextuality (Voltaire-Byron-Hugo). Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The aim of this thesis is to reassess the value of the horse-figure in the tale of Mazeppa. The study begins with an attempt to establish the status of the tale as a Romantic myth in Western European culture and identifies four texts as a corpus of study: Voltaire's Histoire de Charles XII, roi de Suede, Lord Byron's Mazeppa, its translation into French by Amedee Pichot and, finally, Victor Hugo's 'Mazeppa' from his collection Les Orientales. Using methodologies derived from the history of ideas, psychoanalysis, and contextual and intertextual approaches, it is proposed that these four texts form a chain of meaning. The texts are examined at symbolic, structural and textual levels. At these levels, the concepts of the 'centaur complex' and the 'Pegasus complex' are introduced, enabling the outline of the horse as a representation of poetic inspiration and genius to emerge. This appears implicitly or explicitly in the texts and is effected through a dialectical process of fusion and inversion occurring within the man-animal relationship. As a result, the horse becomes not only a thematic link, or 'bridge', horizontally tying the chain of texts together, but it also endorses, within each text, a deeper, vertical function supporting metapoetic meaning and thus reaching the field of poetic ontology. The figurative horse is the 'real' creative surge for each writer within himself and between each text. Poetic creation springs from a hollow wound which the horse, representing the urge of expression, comes to fill and heal. This language transcends nationalities, but, as the story of Mazeppa was written both in English and in French, and also for other methodological reasons, the thesis is distinctively comparative. However, the double function of the horse implies that each text is studied on its own as well as in relation to the other texts of the corpus.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Mazeppa's horse: A case of Anglo-French intertextuality (Voltaire-Byron-Hugo)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100584
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