Themes, Forms and Metamorphoses- Essays in Honour of David Gascoigne
Edited By Lorna Milne and Mary Orr
Lorna Milne - Deep Space: A Sojourn in the Salt Mines with Michel Tournierand Marie Nimier -251
Lorna Milne Deep Space: A Sojourn in the Salt Mines with Michel Tournier and Marie Nimier At first glance, Marie Nimier and Michel Tournier share little apart from their rather brief but inf luential associations, as daughter and former class- mate respectively, with Roger Nimier.1 However, the two authors can also be brought into comparison thanks to two novels which feature the salt mine as a structural and thematic focal point: Tournier’s Gaspard, Melchior et Balthazar and Nimier’s Celui qui court derrière l’oiseau.2 Although Tournier’s mine is set two thousand years ago whereas Nimier’s is modern, both draw on common cultural imagery associated with salt and the salt mine: in both cases, for example, the mine is in the charge of a central authority, linked closely to state activities, notably imprisonment and penal servitude.3 Both authors also mobilize the rich symbolism of salt in its associations with that which, as Derek Denton puts it, is ‘pure, white, immaculate and incorruptible, […] irreducible into further compo- nents, […] indispensable to living creatures [and] [c]orrespondingly […] regarded as the essence of things in general, the quintessence of life, and 1 Marie Nimier, La Reine du silence (Paris: Gallimard, 2004); Michel Tournier, Le Vent Paraclet (Paris: Gallimard, 1977), pp. 154–5. Nimier quotes Tournier’s description of Roger in La Reine du silence, p. 147. 2 Michel Tournier, Gaspard, Melchior et Balthazar (Paris: Gallimard , coll. Folio, 1982): page references will be given in the body of the text together with the abbreviation GMB. Marie...
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