In 1961, Rene Girard publishes Mensonge romantique, Vérité romanesque (MRVR) (in english Deceit, Desire and the Novel : Self and Other in Literary Structure). Professor of comparative literature, born in France but living and working in the United States, he analyses the novelistic masterpieces in which he perceives the problem of the desire in a different way.

* Hypothesis
* The triangle of the desire
* External & internal mediation
* The loss of the differences
* Mimetic rivalry

(1)Dupuy notes funnily (in "L'enfer des choses") : "it is because publicity shows Jones having X that it gives to the Smith the desire for acquiring it. Moreover, it does not need publicity for that, the Smith are tortured enough by the desire they have for the Jones to discover all alone that these last ones possess. "

What do we know about the human desire? The dominant opinion as well in the human sciences as for the common sense, is that we fixe our desire on an object in a completely autonomous way. This approach would imply the fact that each object has a value susceptible to polarize this desire.

If we are not too demanding, it is indeed the feeling which our daily experience gives to us. The desire that I have for this woman, this ambition to have some success in my profession or this new car which I intend to buy seem to proceed from my free choice. The linear vision of the desire has for it all its simplicity. However, it obliges to a certain number of mental contortions when we try to explain also simply phenomena totally linked to the desire, like the envy or the jealousy.

After reflexion (but we admit rarely this fact), we envy first the one who possesses the object (this last one having finally a minor importance). And, in certain cases, we would feel more satisfaction in the fact than the Other does not possess the object, rather than to have it ourselves. Publicity, this hymn to the possession of objects, gives us to desire, not a product in its objective qualities but some people, Others, who desire this product or who seem gratified with its possession (1).

By analyzing the novelistic masterpieces (Cervantes, Stendhal, Proust and Dostoïevski), René Girard reveals a different mechanism for the human desire. This one would not fix itself in an autonomous way according to a linear path between the subject and an object, but by imitation of the desire of an Other, according to a triangular plan : subject - model - object.

Don Quixotte indicates clearly that he dedicates his life to the imitation of Amadis de Gaule, such as the knight with the Sad Face imagines that he would be. The Eternal Husband can desire his future wife only through the desire, aroused by him, of his first wife's lover, whom he will be able to imitate. And Mr. de Rênal wishes to take Julien Sorel as tutor only because he is convinced that Valenod, the other important personality of Verrières, is ready to do it.

The Girard's hypothesis rests on the existence of a third element, mediator of the desire, who is the Other. That is only because the man I took as a model is desiring or is in possession of an object (conceived in a broad meaning as any thing with which the other seems gratified and which is lacking to me...) that I begin to desire this one. The object has some value only because it is desired by another. One could think that the introduction of this third "summit" into the equation of the desire is a purely theoretical and arbitrary further complexity on behalf of René Girard. Especially since the presence of this Other involves a questioning of this individualism placed in the heart of the modernity, which shows the human being like a free and autonomous entity and which finds its literary blossoming in the type of romantic hero.

In MRVR, Girard reveals only the presence of the Other in the heart of the novelistic genius. It is the omnipresence of the Other in the desire which makes the greatness of Stendhal or of Dostoïevski against the romantic lie of a divine or superhuman hero, at any rate autosufficient, who would illustrate the linear path of the desire. The presence of the Other is always a simplification - or rather a clarification - of the situations. The romantic lie which is denounced by René Girard is only the attempt to erase or to dissimulate the model in the plan of the desire...

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Image: Don Quixotte and Sancho Pança by Daumier
The Hypothesis • Girard's Anthropology • The Gospel Revelation
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