n French Studies in Southern Africa - Dérives narcissiques dans le roman de Paul Smaïl




In Paul Smaïl (pseudonym of Daniel Théron) retraces the life of a serial killer and the intrinsic logic of his madness. Ali, a gifted adolescent, is confronted with his incapacity to assert himself and refuses the simplistic label of young of the that his peers and society in general try to attach to him. Being unable to identify with the values of his community, he chooses to withdraw into himself, and, in this autarkic way, satisfy his need for recognition. His mental retreat into the imaginary, as defence mechanism, is expressed by the conception of grandiose personalities that drive him to acquire high-class objects as a sign of success. Virility and excessive consumerism become the manifestation of his alienation. His mental isolation and the sublimation of things in order to affirm his superiority exacerbate his frustration and his anger at his desperate situation. At the same time, Ali searches for signs of his existence in different kinds of amorous relationships, all of which are linked by their narcissistic quality. The failure of these relationships and the unrealistic personalities he constructed push him towards a mental abstruseness where anger is expressed by physical violence against women. Ironically, it is only once Ali is banished completely from society as a result of his crimes that he reconciles himself with the world and, like Narcissus, finds peace and original completeness in his state of non-existence.


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