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From Surrealism to Less-Exquisite Cadavers

Léo Malet and the Evolution of the French Roman Noir

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Michelle Emanuel

Les nouveaux mystères de Paris (1954-1959), Léo Malet’s fifteen-novel detective series inspired by Eugène Sue’s nineteenth-century feuilleton, almost achieved the goal of setting a mystery in each of the twenty Parisian arrondissements, with Nestor Burma at the center of the action. In Burma, the “détective de choc” first introduced in 1943’s 120 rue de la gare, Malet, considered the “father” of the French roman noir, creates a cultural hybrid, bringing literary references and surrealist techniques to a criminal milieu.
Michelle Emanuel’s groundbreaking study is particularly insightful in its treatment of Malet as a pioneer within the literary genre of the French roman noir while making sure to also focus on his surrealist roots.
Against the archetypes of Simenon’s Maigret and Christie’s Poirot, Burma is brash and streetwise, peppering his speech with colorful and evocative slang. As the reader’s tour guide, Burma highlights Paris’s forgotten past while providing insight to the Paris of (his) present, referencing both popular culture and contemporary issues. Malet’s innovation of setting a noir narrative in France serves as a catalyst for further change in the policier genre in France, including his contemporary Jean Amila, the néo-polar of Jean-Patrick Manchette, and the historical roman noir of Didier Daeninckx.

Present Pasts

Patrick Modiano’s (Auto)Biographical Fictions

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Dervila Cooke

This is the first in-depth study of the twelve Modiano texts specifically concerned with life-writing in autobiographical and biographical-cum-historiographical projects. The texts covered range from La Place de l’étoile (1968) through to La Petite Bijou (2001). Close textual analysis is combined with a theoretical approach based on current thinking in autobiography, biography, and reader-response. Modiano’s use of autofiction and biofiction is analysed in the light of his continuing obsession with both personal trauma and History, as well as his problematic relationship with his paternally-inherited Jewish links. His view of identity (of self and other) is thus discussed in relation to a particular literary and socio-historical context– French, postmodern, post-World War II, and post-Holocaust.

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Avi Sagi

This book is an attempt to read the totality of Camus’s oeuvre as a voyage, in which Camus approaches the fundamental questions of human existence: What is the meaning of life? Can ultimate values be grounded without metaphysical presuppositions? Can the pain of the other penetrate the thick shield of human narcissism and self-interest? Solipsism and solidarity are among the destinations Camus reaches in the course of this journey. This book is a new reading of one of the towering humanists of the twentieth century, and sheds new light on his spiritual world.

Beware the Stranger

The Survenant in the Quebec Novel

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Peter Noble

The stranger ( survenant) represents an important theme in Quebec literature of the second half of the twentieth century. This book analyses the role of the survenant in five major novels dating from 1945 to 1992 and shows how the theme is constantly reworked and revitalised by the authors selected. The arrival of a survenant in a community brings to the surface the conflicts and tensions which had been latent. The consequences can be tragic for all concerned. At the least the community is changed forever. This is the first study of the way in which different Quebecois authors treat the survenant and should be of interest to all students of Quebec literature and culture.

The Shape of Change

Essays in Early Modern Literature and La Fontaine in Honor of David Lee Rubin

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Edited by Anne L. Birberick and Russell Ganim

In The Shape of Change, Anne L. Birberick and Russell Ganim bring together essays by fourteen established scholars who dedicate their studies to David Rubin as they explore the ways in which artistic endeavor shapes and is shaped by literary memory. The volume is divided into two sections. The first section, “Continuity and Discontinuity,” offers essays by Jody Enders, Timothy Reiss, Twyla Meding, Marie-Odile Sweetser, Robert Corum, Jr., and the editors themselves and considers the ways in which seventeenth-century authors draw upon generic conventions or diverse artistic media to create works that reflect the aesthetic and moral values of their time. The second section, entitled “La Fontaine,” focuses primarily on Jean de La Fontaine's masterpiece, Les Fables. Here the problem of imitation and innovation as it relates to genre, influence, and literary reputation is examined in essays by Jules Brody, Richard Danner, Judd Hubert, Catherine Grisé, Michael Vincent, Nicholas Cronk, and Ralph Albanese, Jr. The Shape of Change serves as a fine scholarly contribution to the studies of French seventeenth-century literature and La Fontaine. The essays are thoughtful as well as thought provoking and the volume’s critical diversity is nicely balanced by its thematic coherence. In its ability to stimulate new thinking, this collection of essays will be of interest to both students and scholars of early modern France.

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Susan Petit

From the 1950’s, with Le Rempart des béguines, La Chambre rouge, Cordélia, Les Mensonges and L’Empire céleste, down into the 1990’s, with Adriana Sposa, Divine, Les Larmes, La Maison dont le chien est fou and Sept démons dans la ville, the work of Françoise Mallet-Joris has exercised a very special fascination over a very large readership. The content of her work, ever developing yet faithful to residual, either lived or observed, studied experience, is wide-ranging and unflinching – family relationships, the individual psyche, belief systems that move from quasi-nihilism to the mystical, sexuality, feminine consciousness, creativity, larger social frameworks, etc. – and she can move with ease from portrayal of the hypercontemporary to the researched – and finely imagined – historical reconstruction. Susan Petit, whose lively and elegantly written study addresses all these, and other, factors, argues modestly but wisely that “the works of Mallet-Joris provide stimulating, thought-provoking and coherent ways of apprehending ourselves and our human situation”. One need ask no more of an author who, though perhaps personally drawn to certain perspectives, maintains an admirable openness and multiplicity of interrogation of existence.

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Mary Neiland

This book reveals the extensive and dynamic interplay between Les Tentations de saint Antoine and the rest of Flaubert’s fiction. Mary Neiland combines two critical approaches, genetic and intertextual criticism, in order to trace the development of selected topoi and figures across the three versions of La Tentation and on through Flaubert’s other major works. Each chapter is devoted to one of these centres of interest, namely, the banquet scene, the cityscape, the crowd, the seductive female and the Devil. Detailed study of these five areas exposes a remarkable intimacy between writings that appear at a far remove from each other. The networks of recurring images located demonstrate for the first time the obsessive nature of Flaubert’s writing practice; the pursuit of these networks across his fictional writings exposes his developing technique; and La Tentation is revealed as both a privileged moment of expression and as a place of auto-reflection.
This volume will be of interest to students and specialists of Flaubert as well as to those interested in genetic and intertextual criticism.

The Flight of the Angels

Intertextuality in Four Novels by Boris Vian

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Alistair Charles Rolls

It is a close study of four novels by Boris Vian. It aims to show how L'Écume des jours, L'Automne à Pékin, L'Herbe rouge and L'Arrache-coeur form a unified and coherent tetralogy. By establishing close links between these four texts, it becomes possible to achieve a more comprehensive understanding, not only of the significance of the tetralogy in exposing a complex and multi-layered novelistic strategy at the heart of the vianesque, but of the individual novels as autonomous creations. An examination of the novels reveals that they are not merely joined to one another via a superficial network of textual similarities (that which I refer to as intratextuality), but that this intertwining is emblematic of a common method of narrative construction. Each Vian novel is dependent, for a thorough understanding of the text to be possible, upon the multiple lines of external influence running through it. The sources of this influence (which I refer to as intertextuality) are located in various major texts of twentieth century literature, anglophone as well as francophone. Thus, in each instance the narrative is driven by a complicated interaction of intratextuality and intertextuality.