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Shaping the Novel: Receptions of the Essais

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Shaping the Novel

Receptions of the Essais

Constantina Thalia Mitchell and Paul Raymond Côté

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352 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-036-6 25% OFF! $120.00/£85.00 $90.00/£63.75 Hb Published (October 1996)

eISBN 978-1-78920-605-0 eBook

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"... the authors ... show us in admirable detail how the authors have created self-referential works which make the novel a vital part of the artistic expression ... draws upon an extensive bibliography and a thorough understanding of how to incorporate critical theory ... an incontrovertible source."  · Canadian Literature

"... provides useful readings of important literary texts of our time, but, more than that, it provides food for reflection on the value of the literary project in the postmodern era."  · Quebec Studies

"... a detailed study, based on a sound understanding of Malraux's, Hébert's and Modiano's works and of modern and postmodern literary criticism. It will rekindle your interest in these authors or will compel you to deepen and enrich it."  · French Review


The dialogue between form and message is intrinsic to the novel as genre. Yet the strength of that discourse has been shaken in the twentieth century by an increasing doubt about affirmations of any kind and a growing awareness of the relativity of knowledge and perception. The novel reflects this intellectual current by turning its glance inward to mediate on the creative act as a form of self-contained assertion of its own particular significance. The three writers on whom this study focuses, all major twentieth century authors, were chosen because they can be considered as important representatives of this novelistic self-consciousness. Building on André Malraux's vision of the colloquium as an open-ended verbal interchange, this study calls upon the voices of Anne Hérbert and Patrick Modiano to enter into a dialogue on novelistic form.

Constantina Thalia Mitchell is Professor of French at Gallauder University (Washington D.C.). She holds a Ph.D. in French literature from McGill University and a licence ès lettres from the Sorbonne. Her publications include works on Paul Verlaine, Anne Hérbert, Yves Beauchemin, and nineteenth- and twentieth century deaf history of Québec. She has served on the executive and editiorial boards of the American Council for Québec Studies, as well as the Galluader University Press editorial board.

Paul Raymond Côté is Associate Professor of French at The American University (Washington D.C.) and received his Ph.D. in French literature from McGill University. The author of Les Techniques picturales chez les romains de Malraux: interrogation et métamorphose (1984), he has also written on other contemporary French authors and has published a number of articles dealing with the literature of Québec. He has served as managing editor of The André Malraux Review and as as member of the Québec Studies editorial board.

Subject: General Cultural Studies
Area: France





Chapter 1. Situating the Work: An Overview

  • A Literature of Uncertainty
  • Les Noyers de L'Altenburg: Genesis and Critical Response

Chapter 2. The Opening of the Son's Account

  • The Noyers Incipit and Textual Framing
  • Chartres Prison Camp: Writer(s) Writing
  • Berger's Dream or a Text in Search of Embodiment
  • Parodic Representations of Written and Oral Discourse

Chapter 3. The Father's Cycle: Embedding / Telling

  • Enclosure and Access
  • Inscriptions of Writing
  • The Core Segment
  • The Altenburg Colloquium

Chapter 4. The Text's Inverted Continuum: The Flanders Account

Chapter 5. The Néocritique Colloquium and Les Noyers de l'Altenburg

  • The Pluralistic Point of View
  • Deferral of Resolution
  • The Medium as Message
  • Relativization of Events and Individuals
  • Value Systems
  • Metamorphosis
  • The Role of Chance


Chapter 6. The Drama of the Self

Chapter 7. The Paris Narrative

  • Entering the Text: The Dragon Mother as Muse
  • Circumscription and Concentricity: The Urban Nexus

Chapter 8. The Duchesnay-Quebec City Narrative

  • Voices of Conflict: Centrifugal and Centripetal Forces
  • Interaction of Voices/Manner of Communication
  • Laughter's Relativization of the Sublime, the Profane, and the Carnivalesque

Chapter 9. Thematization and Structural Articulation: Writing and Art as Referents

  • The Epistolary Mode
  • The Text's Dialogue with Literature and Music

Chapter 10. Routes of Exploration

  • The Hébertian Road
  • Dreams


Chapter 11. Surveying the Literary Terrain

Chapter 12. Mnemosyne's Spell

Chapter 13. Specularity and the Void as Text

  • Writing and Vacuity: Vestiaire de l'enfance
  • A Paradigm of the Textual Abyss: Voyage de Noces
  • Bringing the Text to Light: Fleurs de ruine
  • Narrative Reweaving in Un Cirque passe and Chien de printemps

Chapter 14. The Then and Now of Modiano's Novelistic World


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