Drawing the Written Woman

Philippe Druillet's Adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's Salammbô

in European Comic Art
Sonia LagerwallUniversity of Gothenburg sonia.lagerwall@sprak.gu.se

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This article deals with Philippe Druillet's three-volume comic adaptation (1980–1985) of Salammbô, Gustave Flaubert's historical novel from 1862, set three centuries BC. Flaubert was famous for not wanting his texts illustrated: he argued that the preciseness of images would undo the poetic vagueness of his written words. The article examines how Druillet tackles the challenge of graphically representing Flaubert's canonical work without reducing the priestess Salammbô into a given type. The analysis shows a dynamic adaptation process in which Druillet gives a kaleidoscopic form to Flaubert's text. His variation on the Salammbô character foregrounds photography, a medium historically relevant to the novel but also to Druillet's own artistic training. Featuring his character Lone Sloane in the role of Mathô, the adaptation proves to be a highly personal appropriation of the novel, where Druillet enhances an autobiographical dimension of his work previously hinted at in La Nuit and Gaïl.

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