Balzac's voice from the beyond: adaptation and mediumship in Charles d'Orino's Contes de l'au-delà (1904)

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This article explores the relationship between adaptation and mediumship in the work of Charles d’Orino, the pseudonym of Clotilde Briatte, Comtesse Pillet-Will (1851-1910). Focusing on Pillet-Will’s Contes de l’au-delà: sous la dictée des esprits (1904), this analysis considers in particular how she claimed to channel the spirit of Balzac while simultaneously adapting his authorial voice in order to preach spiritualist doctrine. Drawing on the theories of both Roland Barthes and Harold Bloom, the article also reflects on the nature of spirit writing as an adaptive activity, and on its capacity to engage with the complex interplay of artistic voices that underpins Balzac’s fiction.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-246
JournalRevue Balzac / Balzac Review
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2019


  • adaptation, phychography, study, textual polyphony