This essay examines a figure from the Tentation de saint Antoine, the galloping sphinx, as it is quoted by André Gide in his first novel, Les Cahiers d’André Walter (1891). It argues that Gide recognized how Flaubert used this figure as a fulcrum for his anxieties, and that Gide imitated its placement within a mise en abyme, appropriating the symbol for his own dynamic purposes. To unpack this multifaceted borrowing, the essay first explores the range of Flaubertian sources for Gide’s quotation, to analyze it as a treatment of hybrid biographical context, which both authors conceal to some degree. The essay then considers Gide’s literary aspirations, which contributed to a partial identification with, and hostility to Flaubert on the part of the younger author, as well as the musical aspects of Gide’s technique. It concludes by proposing the jackal as Gide’s symbolic other for his own ambitious mises en abyme.
- mise en abyme