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By the 1830s there was a significant number of quarterly reviews, together with monthly magazines and weekly papers that offered a range of criticism on literature. Female reviewers were in a minority in the world of the quarterlies and the monthly magazines from the 1830s through to the 1850s. The distinction between reviewer and critic was one that could only have been made in the second half of the century. The gradual abandonment of anonymity in favour of signed articles in the 1860s was linked to new attitudes to criticism and to the role of the critic. The conduct of a professional literary life, the process of establishing oneself as a reviewer and earning a living by it, evolved over the period. By the end of the nineteenth century, and even more certainly by 1914, the conditions and the contexts of literary criticism had been completely transformed.
A study of Barbey d'Aurevilly‘s “Le Rideau cramoisi” and Stendhal's Le Rouge et le noir provides insights into the functioning of allusion as an artistic device. Barbey, with his use of Stendhal's masterpiece, was probably appealing to a group of ardent stendhaliens forming as early as the 1850's. Where a feeling for the rather equivocal reactions aroused in Le Rouge et le noir‘s nineteenth-century readers may be obtained from a perusal of the epoch's criticism, a deeper understanding of the novel arises from an analysis of “Le Rideau cramoisi.” On the levels of vocabulary, imagery, character, and plot, Barbey's story alludes to the earlier work. Within “Le Rideau,” the allusion works in the fashion of a gradually enlarging metaphor. Like metaphor, Barbey's allusion has two terms: Le Rouge et le noir and Brassard's tale. The two terms work as a unit in the framework of the whole story to intensify those elements shared with Le Rouge—an egotistical protagonist incapable of preventing himself from violating the codes of honor and hospitality. Moreover, the allusion serves as the principal means for eliciting the central theme of diabolism. The masterful use of this artistic device partially explains both the continuing interest aroused by “Le Rideau cramoisi” and its power.
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