Winter 2005 • Vol. XXVII No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 2005 |

The Death of Lucien de Rubempré

One of the greatest tragedies of my life," wrote Oscar Wilde, "is the death of Lucien de Rubempre. It is a grief from which I have never been able completely to rid myself. It haunts me in my moments of pleasure. I remember it when I laugh." The last phrase might suggest ambivalence. Proust, in Contre Sainte-Beuve, is interested in the way Wilde's "attendrissement" in the days of his brilliance prefigured his own imprisonment and fall. Proust assumed that "il s'attendrissait sur elle [la mort de Lucien] comme tous les lecteurs, en se plaçant au point de vue de Vautrin, qui est le point de vue de Balzac . . . ." [he felt moved by Lucien's death, like all readers, by seeing it from Vautrin's point of view, which is Balzac's own . . . . ] I was surprised when I first read the scene to find tears rising in my eyes, partly at least because until that moment I had intensely disliked Lucien, in a way I dislike few fictional characters. Indeed, as Lucien writes his self-satisfied farew

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Riddle

By Robert Coover

One of the greatest tragedies of my life," wrote Oscar Wilde, "is the death of Lucien de Rubempre. It is a grief from which I have never been able completely […]

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