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Fenster, T.S. (1982). Beaumanoir's La Manekine: Kin D(r)ead: Incest, Doubling, and Death. Am. Imago, 39(1):41-58.

(1982). American Imago, 39(1):41-58

Beaumanoir's La Manekine: Kin D(r)ead: Incest, Doubling, and Death

Thelma S. Fenster, Ph.D.

Early in La Manekine, the princess Joïe is alone in her chamber when her father, the King of Hungary, enters. It is a disconcerting moment: “The young woman is combing her hair;/ She looks at herself and sees/ Her father, who is next to her;/ She blushes in shame” (I, 383-386). This brief, intimate moment offers a glimpse of what is to be the conflict of the poem: the king has come with romance on his mind, for his barons have insisted that he marry his daughter, who is his only child. They have chosen her because she resembles her dead mother, and they hope that she will soon produce a male heir to the throne. The act of reflecting in the mirror recalls the mother of whom Joïe alone, of all the women in the world, is the very image. Rather than finding the integrity of the self, the self which is “first gained in its image in a mirror,” the princess discovers instead a narcissistically-imposed double, prompted by the father's desire; he sees not a daughter but a wife. Although Joïe does not yet “know” that her father views her carnally, she blushes. And the blush betrays the presence of the narrative voice, who does know.

1 The only edition of Beaumanoir's work is Philippe de Rémi, sire de Beaumanoir, Oeuvres poétiques de Beaumanoir, 2 vols., ed. Hermann Suchier, Société des Anciens Textes Français (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1884); La Manekine is in vol.

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