Event Title

Maupassant and the Bataillean General Economy

Presenter Information

Keith Mushonga, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor

Scott Shinabargar, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

World Languages and Cultures

Location

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 114

Start Date

24-4-2015 4:35 PM

Description

In “The Necklace” and “The Seat-caner,” French writer Guy de Maupassant, a master of the short story, tells the story of two women who try to penetrate the upper echelons of 19th-century French society, but find themselves repressed by the demon of patriarchy. The women resort to using money and sexuality as ways of increasing their negotiating power; however, their quest for social mobility ends tragically. I argue that the women are sexually repressed and consequently try to use money as a means to gain the attention of men. By using the philosopher George Bataille’s idea of the General Economy, which he elaborates in “La Part Maudite” (“The Cursed Share”), George Bataille asserts that any form of economic exchange is an attempt to gain power and that sexuality is subtly embedded in that rapport. The seat-caner grows up poor and ostracized from society; she is barred from socializing with young boys. She thus sacrifices herself by spending a lifetime accumulating wealth, hoping to win an amorous liaison with a bourgeois man who, in the end, shamelessly rejects her. Loisel, however, desires to live a fairytale; she creates an illusion of poverty out of her stable economic situation. She borrows a “river of jewels” in order to seduce flocks of men at a ball, in an attempt to gain authority over the men, but when she loses the jewels, she must work to restore the excess she has misplaced, hence suffering the repercussions of Bataille’s General Economy.

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Apr 24th, 4:35 PM

Maupassant and the Bataillean General Economy

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 114

In “The Necklace” and “The Seat-caner,” French writer Guy de Maupassant, a master of the short story, tells the story of two women who try to penetrate the upper echelons of 19th-century French society, but find themselves repressed by the demon of patriarchy. The women resort to using money and sexuality as ways of increasing their negotiating power; however, their quest for social mobility ends tragically. I argue that the women are sexually repressed and consequently try to use money as a means to gain the attention of men. By using the philosopher George Bataille’s idea of the General Economy, which he elaborates in “La Part Maudite” (“The Cursed Share”), George Bataille asserts that any form of economic exchange is an attempt to gain power and that sexuality is subtly embedded in that rapport. The seat-caner grows up poor and ostracized from society; she is barred from socializing with young boys. She thus sacrifices herself by spending a lifetime accumulating wealth, hoping to win an amorous liaison with a bourgeois man who, in the end, shamelessly rejects her. Loisel, however, desires to live a fairytale; she creates an illusion of poverty out of her stable economic situation. She borrows a “river of jewels” in order to seduce flocks of men at a ball, in an attempt to gain authority over the men, but when she loses the jewels, she must work to restore the excess she has misplaced, hence suffering the repercussions of Bataille’s General Economy.