Magazine article World Literature Today

Peplum

Magazine article World Literature Today

Peplum

Article excerpt

Blutch. Peplum. Trans. Edward Gauvin. New York. New York Review Comics. 2016. 160 pages.

"The nostalgia for purity, the ghost of a perfect love-these are a drunkard's despair."

Spoken by the work's impostor protagonist's seemingly mute "little brother," this line speaks to one of the underlying themes of Blutch's Peplum: the ideal of love can make a man intoxicated to the point where his situation, his very survival, is at stake due to his attachment to what he wishes love to be rather than what love is.

Across a backdrop of misadventures in what Peplum's English translator, Edward Gauvin, calls Blutch's attempt "to create a sequel to . . . the Satyricon," we experience the protagonist's journey with two main loves: his found "little brother" and his ideal love, a "goddess" encased in ice. The former gives him a taste of what seeming unconditional, immediate love is, which he trades for the latter, an effigy of love. While attempting to woo an actress, the conflict between those two loves, including the loss of the former while still longing for the latter, leaves him both spiritually and physically impotent. Interestingly, Blutch pushes this idea even further with the realization that the ideal of love itself is transitory, possibly even as fictitious as the assumed identity of the protagonist himself. …

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