Don Juan in Search of Identity in the Play "La Nuit de Valognes" by Éric-Emanuel Schmitt

Authors

  • Nikola Bjelić Department of French Language and Literature, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Niš, Serbia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v16i3.12

Keywords:

Éric-Emanuel Schmitt, myth, Don Juan, identity search, sexuality, homosexuality, love

Abstract

The first play by the contemporary French writer Éric-Emanuel Schmitt, The Night in Valognes (La Nuit de Valognes, 1989), represents a completely new interpretation of the myth originating from the 17th century, and celebrated in the writings of many subsequent authors, from Tirso de Molina, over Molière and Mozart, to Ballester and Handke. The play is situated in a castle in northern France, taking place some thirty years after the well-known adventures of Don Juan, and represents a trial organized by five women, his former lovers. However, the penalty – to marry his last victim, is not executed.

The aim of the paper is to argue that in this humorous philosophical play, written by the end of the 20th century, Schmitt is not interested in the problem of seduction, represented in the classical myth, but in the quest of the main character for his identity. His hero does not give the answer to the key question: “Who am I?”, but instead poses the question if our sexual identities are solid and unchangeable. The hero’s search for identity is presented as the quality of contemporary man, re-examining his sexuality through search for love, as well as homosexuality, hinted at in the play as one possible modern identity of Don Juan.

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Published

2021-11-16

How to Cite

Bjelić, Nikola. 2021. “Don Juan in Search of Identity in the Play ‘La Nuit De Valognes’ by Éric-Emanuel Schmitt”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 16 (3):917–933. https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v16i3.12.