Presentation extracts


The Goat of Mr. Seguin is an interesting link between the theme of transgression and the denial of castration, another major aspect of the perverse structure. Repetition, underscored by the brave Seguin, placed this story in the successive generations, and thus emphasizes the symbolic character. The magic number seven, clearly accentuates this reference to the tradition: "After losing six goats in the same way, he bought a seventh." And indeed there is a law, so quietly mentioned that you can almost forgot it: Pets are destined to live attached, not to frolic in the mountains. There is a prohibition that affects all goats through the generations. The name of the previous one Renaude reminds us that the mother of Alphonse was called Reynaud, and that the next in line should be an avatar of Alphonse himself. This universal law applies to all generations one after another, the prohibition of incest. The wolf is castration. Symbolic, but experienced by the child as real and terrible. By violating the prohibition, Blanquette realizes the fantasy of unbridled enjoyment of Alphonse. We know by biographers what sensuality was his; he describes himself as "a machine to feel." And for Blanquette it is all about that : what she want darkly is to see the wolf, it is clear. To live is to enjoy the sense of a heightened sensuality, which, to stick to the text this time, is far from the metaphysical: " The white goat, half drunk, wallow in there, the legs in the air (sic) and rolling along the slope. "

Note also how many times, Daudet seems have fun to play with deadpan expressions, but still leaving the reader the care to guess them (here, seeing the wolf: refers to a young girl who is no more novice, Robert): the man is a wolf to man (homo homini lupus). The wolves did not eat themselves. You should know howl with the wolves. The hungry makes the wolf go out of the wood. We might even wonder if the final episode of The Goat is not a pure and simple staging similar expressions. Because this is the hunger that makes him go out of the woods and that when we speak of the wolf, we see his tail (or he goes out of the wood, according to the variants). Here Blanquette think to the wolf. He goes out of the wood, and lick his lips. "She thought to the wolf. (...) The goat heard a leaves noise behind her. She turned and saw in the shadows two short straight ears with two glowing eyes ... It was the wolf. "

And the kid did not escape. Because basically, the author - while denying the reality of castration - knows that there is no exception. Blanquette knows that wolves exist and that they eat goats, but at the same time, she does exactly as if the wolf was not there, provocation what indeed all children play to in nursery school, and which is - to judge by the real screams they grow - an excellent staging of the castration anxiety: "Wolf are you there? What are you doing? Can you hear me? - Boooooo! "

Excerpts from The Great Case of the Small Thing - Figures of perversion in the work of Alphonse Daudet,
Le Guennec Jean, L'Harmattan, 2006