Fantastic encounters: identity, belief and the supernatural in works by Paul Féval
Nineteenth-century French fantastic tales are rampant with supernatural creatures and events. The manifestation of supernatural phenomena, as a literary device, creates a relationship between the reader and the author that allows the reader to negotiate the fictional world the author has created. The belief that the reader is able to accord to the supernatural, and thus the narrative as a whole can fluctuate depending upon the reader's own perception. By questioning identity, as well as by introducing archetypal images such as the femme fatale, the author is also able to modify the reader's perception by integrating historical figures and events that promote credibility to the overall narrative. Paul Féval, a French nineteenth-century novelist, demonstrates the author's role of establishing the author-reader relationship in many of his fantastic tales and works of popular fiction. This study examines the supernatural figures, most notably vampires, fairies, and ogres, which Féval uses to engage readers and promote belief in the narrative worlds he creates.