Disabling Excess: Sacrificial Violence and Disability as Divine Punishment in Les Commettants de Caridad

  • Julie Robert University of Technology, Sydney
Keywords: Disability, literature, divine punishment, sacrificial violence, excess, Yves Thériault, Les Commettants de Caridad, narratology, Girard, Derrida


The idea of disability as divine punishment is an enduring myth that French-Canadian author Yves Thériault draws upon in his 1966 novel, Les Commettants de Caridad. The narratologically complex story tells of how a proud but deceitful man acquired his multiple disabilities, all the while unsettling the link between disability and punishment, divine or otherwise. Using narratological analyses, Girard’s theories on violence and scapegoating, and Derridean notions of supplementarity and excess, this article suggests that Thériault’s implicit project is one that mobilizes hyperbolic representations of disability and reactions to it not to shore up stereotypical uses of disability in literature, but rather to undermine

Author Biography

Julie Robert, University of Technology, Sydney

Julie Robert is a Senior Lecturer of Cultural and International Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. Her research covers areas pertaining to medical and public health discourses in the construction of national identities in both France and Canada, responsible drinking initiatives, embodied philanthropy and the cultural representations of alcohol.