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By Cyril A. Mango

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This is why Mintié prefers the symbol of the crucifix, representing, as it does, the interminable Passion of the savior, which never ends with death and an indescribable resurrection. This is why Mintié projects himself as a suffering redeemer – imprisoned in the body, denied any real transcendence. However, since Mintié never writes, the Cross ceases to act as the site of symbolization. It no longer marks the point where speaking man beholds a divinity beyond language. Instead, like the unwritten book, it exists solely as an object whose indestructibility situates eternity in matter.

390. Iconoclasm: L’AbbJ Jules 47 begins with the removal of obstacles. Ultimately, for Mirbeau, creative energy is best utilized when it is directed at a program of hygienic destruction. In L’Abbé Jules, Mirbeau outlines his aesthetic of creative annihilation, the beauty of obliterating what is fossilized and stifling. Each artist’s antecedents have already littered the countryside with bodies, and, in the interest of creative health, these dead artifacts must be cleared away. But the only genuine art work is the production of new hecatombs.

P. 514. 42 Iconoclasm: L’AbbJ Jules 55 conserver par dissipation. ”44 Mirbeau ends his novel by describing the snicker audible from underground, a reference to the comprehensive failure of repression. Along with Jules’s body, the townspeople bury the fears of their mortality, denying their venality, hypocrisy, and cowardice. Jules himself enjoys a derisory immortality by surviving in his testament, in which he bequeathes his worldly fortune to the first priest who will defrock himself. Jules’s final text proves that one thing is everlasting: human selfishness and greed that pose as piety and principle.

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