Mandragora, death and “two nights of excess.” Alfred de Musset’s and George Sand’s encounters with Eros and Thanatos
French erotic literature began to develop already in the Middle Ages and today is regarded as one of the best known and most appreciated. 1833 was marked by the publication of the novel Gamiani ou Deux nuits d’excès, attributed to Alfred de Musset and George Sand. The novel recounts a story of two nights from the life of Countess Gamiani and her companions — a teenage friend, Fanny, and a young man, Alcide. The readers follow stories of sexual initiation of the protagonists and their preoccupation with various erotic fantasies, which they indulge with in the Countess’ alcove. Referring to Sigmund Freud’s terms of “life instincts” and “death instincts,” the author tries to present the motives and results of the protagonists’ actions, and their erotic relations in a cultural context.