From Ascetic to Poet: Poetic Renunciation

  • Dominique JullienEmail author
Part of the Literatures of the Americas book series (LOA)


This chapter analyzes the aesthetic variant of the renunciation archetype. In Borges’s poet stories, the king-and-ascetic pair morphs into a king-and-poet pair, with renunciation serving an artistic goal. The discussion traces this aesthetic appropriation back to the ancient and Renaissance tradition of artists’ lives, and explores ascetic conceptions of art from Romanticism and Symbolism to modern art’s debt to Cynicism, focusing on Borges’s poet stories and artist stories from the Borgesian hypertext (by Flaubert, Schwob, Yourcenar, and Yi Mun-yol), where renunciation is a requirement of the creative process.


Artist lives Poet stories Yourcenar Yi Mun-yol Schwob Flaubert Aesthetic asceticism Romanticism Symbolism Cynicism 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of French and Italian, Comparative Literature ProgramUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

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