Abstract. The American writer Tracy Chevalier – an English resident since 1984 – bridges a multicultural gap through her novel The Virgin blue (1997). In this narrative, the 16th-century French Isabelle du Moulin, a profound believer in God and the Virgin Mary, is affectively connected to the 20th-century Ella Turner / Tournier (who is an American) through a lingering bad dream based on the laws of association (cf. Baudouin 1945: 19, 24). The rich cultural background of the book mirrors the dissimilar American, French and Swiss ways of life. The open American space meets the closed rural French space (as if echoing the problem Ella has to solve) and the even more private Swiss space. The clarification of the sacrifice of Isabelle du Moulin’s daughter (on purpose called Marie) is made through the dreams which take Ella deeper and deeper into the past. Dreams are seen by rabbis as a way of getting closer to God (Cohen 2002: 389), while the Bible verses that Ella recites in French when she wakes up (Psalm 31) make her a minor prophet (Cohen 2002: 387), especially since she does not speak the French language almost at all. Dreams retrace states of the soul under different guises reminding one of quite important issues when they are premonitory. A verse from the Book of Deuteronomy (29: 29) conveys the fact that everything secret belongs to God and what is revealed is offered so that the words of the Law of God may be done. The history of this literary work takes us back to one of the religious French wars caused by the exaggerated ambition to maintain power, which determined Catherine De Medicis to plot the massacre of 1572 (the famous Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day) and which made Isabelle du Moulin flee France and settle in Switzerland. She disliked the latter because of its rough climate – being close to the Jura mountains – its low temperatures, harsh life and unhealthy living conditions. This paper will discuss the importance of religion and culture as essential elements that can explain the substance of Chevalier’s literary work.

Key words: Tracy Chevalier; culture; history; religion; the supernatural; the Virgin Mary

Pârlog AC (2022) A recondite connection: culture and religion in Tracy Chevalier’s The Virgin blue. Creativity 5(1): 105–115. doi:10.22381/C5120223

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West University of Timişoara,
Faculty of Letters, History and Theology,
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures,
English Department;
Timişoara, Romania

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