Unlike his more cynical fin de siecle peers, medievalist, translator, and conteur Marcel Schwob assigns a moral and aesthetic value to his literary work. In the preface to Coeur double (1891), Schwob's inaugural collection, he describes human history and the evolution of individuals as a journey that starts out from the haven of self- interest and concludes with the arrival at a capacity for empathy. Like his tales, which often chronicle a quest or a crusade, the evolution of Schwob's characters, which also models that of readers, is represented spatially by the perilous itinerary that charts a trip from sanctuary toward a beckoning Jerusalem, a promised land where others are as important as the self. The text is what establishes an awareness of the distance between the home of selfishness and the destination of "charité": "Ainsi l'âme va d'un extrême à l'autre, de l'expansion de sa propre vie à l'expansion de la vie de tous" (Preface, Coeur double VII).



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