Considered an integral part of Metropolitan France, the island of Corsica is situated nonetheless on the very periphery of the modern state that claims it. Actually situated geographically closer to Italy than to any part of France, its culture and its people are likewise more closely related to their Italians neighbors than to the rest of what Corsicans term "Continental France." Following the acquisition of Corsica, both government officials and bourgeois travelers would seek to visit the island, often recording their findings and publishing these memoirs for others to know of their travels. This concept of travel memoirs, specifically those regarding Corsica, had already been a fairly common practice among the British, as they had often placed interest in the island itself. From this group of French and British travel memoirs would come the writings of James Boswell, P. P. Pompéi, and the Baron de Beaumont, among others. Corsica becomes a place of unique setting for novels and short stories throughout the century, with tales of banditry, vendetta, and violence from the island. For those authors seeking to place their stories in Corsica, inspiration was drawn from the very travel memoirs they had read regarding the island, although often they chose to ignore them in favor of stereotypes. I have chosen three specific 19th century authors in relation to the images created by the travel memoirs of Corsica: Prosper Mérimée, Honoré de Balzac, and Guy de Maupassant. The purpose behind each author's use of the images of Corsica was very different and shows different ways that these images were used. Mérimée directly used Corsica to question the triumph of the civilized over the uncivilized, Balzac used Corsica to represent France itself, and Maupassant used Corsica to show that "reality" is really nothing more than a personal illusion. Though when publishing their travel memoirs the authors might not have expected much to come of them, they have actually influence an entire century of writers, and possibly an entire nation, with their images of Corsica.
College and Department
Humanities; French and Italian
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Mayo, James Oliver, "Images of Corsica in France: Travel Memoirs and 19th Century Writers" (2009). Theses and Dissertations. 1764.
Corsica, Travel Memoirs, Prosper Mérimée, Honoré de Balzac, Guy de Maupassant, Mateo Falcone, Colomba, La Vendetta, Au Soleil, En Corse, Un Bandit corse, La Main, Le Bonheur, Une Vendetta