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To their mind, the poem is a product of the abolition ( invoke the shadow of Cratylism – the poem’s meaning coincides with the conditions of its emergence – only to better emphasize the fact that a sign is not an offshoot of that to which it refers, but its abolition : « aboli bibelot d’inanité sonore » according to Mallarmé, « vide » or « hoquet rentré » according to Artaud’s appraisal of the way .At the stroke of midnight, Christabel, the only child of a widower baron, discovers a beautiful lady behind a matronlike, « broad-breasted, old oak tree » (1.42).The first version of the preface (dating from July 1946) draws an explicit comparison between the two writers : « Je ne crois pas qu’une gengivite banale ait poussé un jour S. Coleridge à prendre de l’opium comme son collègue Thomas de Quincey » (XXII, 407).
The case of Coleridge is especially interesting in this light. It seems that Artaud had not respected the delay granted him for the completion of his text; it may be, however, that Parisot felt that was not the most fitting introduction to what was after all an attempt to extend Coleridge’s French readership.Cette panacée comparable pour les autres au pain ou à l’eau, il m’a fallu cinq ans pour la trouver et ce n’est qu’en 1920 que par un hasard étrange un docteur m’a donné du laudanum 40 celui de Coleridge et autres Lakistes qui étaient arrivés à 8000 je dis huit MILLE gouttes de laudanum par jour et s’y étaient alors tenus parce qu’elles représentaient la grosseur du morceau de rosbif ou de pain qu’il leur fallait pour tenir debout.) that he had gleaned the information regarding the quantity of the doses.She leads the stranger, who claims to have been ravished, back to her father’s castle.As if the willing participation of her hostess be required for her to enter the castle precincts, 11Other indications arouse the reader’s suspicions as regards the apparent innocence of Lady Geraldine : when Christabel exhorts her to proffer thanks to the Virgin Mary for having rescued her, she claims she is too tired to pray; the usually docile mastiff bitch growls at her, and as she goes past the hearth, there comes « A tongue of light, a fit of flame » (1.159); upon entering Christabel’s bed-chamber, she recoils from the light; then, after encouraging her hostess to get undressed, she wards off the young girl’s « guardian spirit », the ghost of Christabel’s mother, who had died in child-birth after prophesying that her daughter would marry at midnight.
It would hence appear that Geraldine usurps the place of the spirit of Christabel’s mother only to make her feel all the more powerfully the weight of the maternal heritage, « This mark of my shame, this seal of my sorrow » (1.270) : wounded and periodically bleeding sexual organs, labour-pains and death-throes.