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European Literary Immigration into the French Language

Readings of Gary, Kristof, Kundera and Semprun


Tijana Miletic

The critical, emotional and intellectual change which every immigrant is obliged to endure and confront is experienced with singular intensity by immigrant writers who have also adopted another language for their literary expression. Concentrating on European authors of the second half of the twentieth century who have chosen French as a language for their literary expression, and in particular the novels by Romain Gary, Agota Kristof, Milan Kundera and Jorge Semprun, with reference to many others, European Literary Immigration into the French Language explores some of the common elements in these works of fiction, which despite the varied personal circumstances and literary aesthetics of the authors, follow a similar path in the building of a literary identity and legitimacy in the new language. The choice of the French language is inextricably linked with the subsequent literary choices of these writers.
This study charts a new territory within Francophone and European literary studies in treating the European immigrants as a separate group, and in applying linguistic, sociological and psychoanalytical ideas in the analysis of the works of fiction, and thus represents a relevant contribution to the understanding of European cultural identity.
This volume is relevant to French and European literature scholars, and anyone with interest in immigration, European identity or second language adoption.

Encounters with the Other

A Journey to the Limits of Language through Works by Rousseau, Defoe, Prévost and Graffigny


Martin Calder

Encounters with the Other brings together a range of eighteenth-century texts in which the exploration of lingua incognita figures as a prominent topos . Drawing mostly on a corpus of French texts, but also including a number of works in English, Martin Calder attempts to realign well-known texts with more canonically marginalized works. The originality of the perspectives offered by this book lies in the comparative reading of works not previously conjoined. Encounters with otherness are marked by a transgression of the limits of language, occurring when language becomes alien or unfamiliar. Alterity may take various forms: a foreign language, a familiar language marked by the traits of foreignness, something unrecognizable as language, or even one’s own language breaking down, as in madness. Unfamiliar language may be produced by a foreigner, by a child who cannot yet speak, in extreme cases by something unrecognizably human, in all cases by an agency somehow marked by difference. Narratives of encounters with otherness have written into them narratives of the discovery of the self. Implicitly informed by the reading techniques associated with literary theory, Encounters with the Other offers an insightful commentary on issues surrounding colonialism, cultural difference, gender and the importance of language to identity. Martin Calder’s work challenges certain Eurocentric notions and exposes the problematic links between Enlightenment rationality and colonial expansion. This book is of interest both to undergraduate students and to academic researchers, and to a more general readership concerned with understanding the relationship between Europe, the ‘West’ and a wider world.

National Stereotypes in Perspective

Americans in France, Frenchmen in America


Edited by William L. Chew III

Since the late 18th century, when they first entered into an alliance during the American Revolution, the French and Americans have had a long and sometimes stormy relationship based on a complex mix of mutual admiration, cultural criticism, and sometimes downright disgust for the “other.” The relatively new interdisciplinary field of imagology, or image studies, allows us to place the dynamics of such a relationship into perspective by grounding its analysis firmly in the study of national stereotypes, in the process providing new insights into the mentality of the observer. For if anything, image studies demonstrate again and again that national character is not–as assumed uncritically for centuries–an innate essence of the “other”, but rather a self-serving functional construct of the observer.

The Plot Machine

The French Novel and the Bachelor Machines in the Electric Years (1880-1914)


Kai Mikkonen

This book presents a new and exciting theory of the modern French novel by developing the notion of the narrative as a “textual machine”. Many turn-of-the-century French novels thematically identified their means of narration through the various machines that they depicted. The narrative devices that were particularly important in this self-reflection included: the temporal order of the plot, the question of a narrative’s beginning and end, the hierarchy of narrative voices, and the techniques of the point of view. The question of mechanization became central on all these fronts. Has the novel become automated or machine-like? At the same time, the machine metaphors in the novels of Alfred Jarry, Emile Zola, Jules Verne, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Raymond Roussel combined the question of the narrative form with new ways to think about man’s relationship with technology and the cultural environment. The early modernist texts drew upon contradictory notions of technological promise and threat while they also depicted new forms of identity and behavior, related to or modeled after machines. These texts highlighted cultural assumptions concerning technological innovations and critiqued, mainly through parody and through various figures of man-machine fusion, the positivistic belief in progress. Such writers looked for evidence of advanced forms of consciousness arising out of encounters with new technology such as: telephones, trains, bicycles, telegraphy, phonographs and electricity.
This volume will be of interest to anyone working in the field of modern French literary and cultural history. It will especially appeal to anyone intrigued with the origins of the modernist novel, the history of narrative forms, and the question of how the experience of new technology may be portrayed in literary texts.

The Comic Text

Patterns and Images in the Old French Fabliaux


Brian J. Levy

This book offers a close analysis of the Old French fabliaux, that medieval corpus of short comic tales in narrative verse celebrated (sometimes notorious) for their irreverence and sexual content. It picks out certain key images - such as gambling, illness, and damnation - which develop into themes and motifs running through all the texts, and which add layers of ironic patterning to the essential subject-matter and narrative of each fabliau. These elements, in many respects the 'small print' of the joke, furnish the comic text with many rhythms and echoes, all contributing to the ludic, adversarial nature of the text. They are extremely flexible, serving as a rhetoric of depiction that extends from broad comic motif to the lightest triggering of a mocking smile.
This volume will be of interest to all students of medieval culture, Old French literature, and the development of the short or comic narrative.

Le roman-photo

Actes du colloque de Calaceite (Fondation NOESIS). 21-28 août 1993


Edited by Jan Baetens and Ana Gonzalez

Rassemblant les actes du colloque international sur le roman-photo qui s'est déroulé à la Fondation NOESIS en août 1993, le présent volume aborde pour la toute première fois les diverses facettes du genre longtemps négligé qu'est la narration photographique.
Les grands spécialistes européens et américains du roman-photo présentent ici une synthèse des connaissances actuelles tout en formulant de multiples pistes de recherche pour les années à venir. Leurs interventions s'organisent autour de cinq axes-clé: l'histoire du genre, le problème de son lectorat, ses rapports avec des pratiques analogues tels le reportage ou le livre illustré, les questions relatives à la spécificité controversée du roman-photo et, enfin, l'analyse détaillée de ses plus belles réussites, anciennes ou contemporaines. Une bibliographie très fouillée couronne l'ensemble.
Faisant alterner les voix des théoriciens et des critiques, des lecteurs et des praticiens, les actes de ce colloque constituent à la fois une somme et un laboratoire, un ouvrage de référence et un instrument de recherche.