chapter  13
12 Pages

‘Intriguing Plebeians’ and Hypergamous Desire:Paul Bourget’s Le Disciple and Born in Exile

ByM.D. Allen

Fig. 13.1 ‘The routine of his life disgusted him, and the hope of release was a mockery’. Fronstispiece. Born in Exile (London: Nelson’s Library, 1910).

delicacy of speech and manners wins his admiration. He has already told a IULHQG WKDW LW LVKLVDPELWLRQ WR µPDUU\DSHUIHFWO\ UH¿QHGZRPDQ3XW LW LQ WKH correct terms: I am a plebeian, and I aim at marrying a lady’ (p. 113). To his own astonishment, Peak, a scornful critic of attempts to reconcile the implications of JHRORJLFGLVFRYHULHVZLWKWUDGLWLRQDO&KULVWLDQLW\¿QGVKLPVHOIWHOOLQJ%XFNODQG Warricombe of his intention to take Holy Orders, an act that would effectively erase his lower-middle-class origins and make him able to aspire to Sidwell’s KDQG+LVK\SRFULV\LVHYHQWXDOO\XQPDVNHGDQGKHÀHHVWKHFRXQWU\DQGOLWHUDOO\ dies as he has metaphorically lived, in exile. -DFRE.RUJKDVSODFHG3HDNLQD(XURSHDQFRQWH[W,IUHFHQWVFLHQWL¿FUHVHDUFK

had, in the eyes of many Victorians, made impossible belief in the God conceived as a Supreme Being who provides a loving spiritual and moral centre to the universe DQGKHQFHDWUDQVFHQGHQWDOMXVWL¿FDWLRQIRUV\VWHPVRISXEOLFDQGSULYDWHPRUDOLW\ then man becomes ‘the arbiter of his own spiritual destiny’, and is ‘free to plan his actions according to his own understanding’.5 Peak defends his future teaching of a faith in which he does not believe on the grounds that, in an increasingly democratic society, Christianity at least provides a policing mechanism for a society that is losing the constraints hitherto provided by hierarchy. Korg compares him with Bazarov in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons (1862), Raskolnikov in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment (1866), Niels in the Danish novelist’s Jens Peter Jacobsen’s Niels Lyhne (1880) and Robert Greslou in Paul Bourget’s Le Disciple (1889), who indeed entitles his manuscript autobiography ‘Confession d’un jeune homme d’aujourd’hui’ (p. 95).