An English cover-up: masks, murders, and English cruelty in Goncourt, Lorrain, and Schwob

Scott, Hannah (2017) An English cover-up: masks, murders, and English cruelty in Goncourt, Lorrain, and Schwob. Dix-Neuf, 21 (3). pp. 142-154. ISSN 1478-7318

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Fin-de-siècle writers from diverse disciplines were drawn to the seductive potential of masks and disguise; mask-wearing characters of indefinite identity, indeterminate gender, and insecure psychology proliferate in their texts. However, when characters are designated as English in such stories, they are also, and with remarkable frequency, associated with cruelty or murder: the mask-wielding murderers of Marcel Schwob’s ‘MM. Burke et Hare, Assassins’ carry out their crimes in Britain upon British victims; Edmond de Goncourt weaves his theatrical narrative around the mask-like demeanour of Lord Annandale in La Faustin; and Jean Lorrain’s malicious Lord Ethal exacerbates the Duc de Fréneuse’s perverse obsessions with masks in Monsieur de Phocas. This article explores this unexpected correlation, and examines the ways that English masks are used as narrative devices – at once to mould and play with national distinctions, and to reflect upon the psychological state of the French subject.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Dix-Neuf on 15.12.2017, available online:
Keywords: English, masks, cruelty, murder, Marcel Schwob, Edmond de Goncourt, Jean Lorrain, Les Vies imaginaires, La Faustin, Monsieur de Phocas
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Scott, Hannah
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2017 08:51
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 19:22

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