Previous Issue Abstracts

Vol. 46.1 Spring 2021


Novel Touch: Feeling Fabric in Zola's Au Bonheur des Dames
Margot Szarke

This article analyzes tactile illusions and calculations in Emile Zola's 1883 novel Au Bonheur des Dames, focusing on the text's descriptions of fabric and its account of characters' haptic perceptions. While scholars have approached Zola's narration of the rise of the grands magasins as a depiction of consumer manipulation and desensitization, often analyzing nineteenth-century visual culture, this essay proposes another interpretive framework with which to probe the effects of both modern commercial infrastructures and representational strategies on the perceiving subject. Connecting Zola's portrayal of the sense of touch to developments in consumer practices, modern aesthetics, and contemporary medical-scientific understandings of physiological events, this article highlights the ways in which tactile sensitivities become increasingly exchanged, quantified, and mediated in a variety of contexts. An examination of touch in Au Bonheur des Dames allows us to reassess not only the stakes of Zola's literary naturalism, but in addition, the changing cultural dimensions of haptic experience in the mid-to-late nineteenth century.

Une Machine à gloire? Legacies of the French Inventor(s) of Sound Recording through the Ages
Renée Altergott

The 2008 restoration of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville's recorded voice from 1860 has rekindled old debates over the "true" origins of sound reproduction. Although Charles Cros submitted his design for the paléophone to the Académie des Sciences on 30 April 1877, they did not open it until 3 December. In the meantime, Thomas Edison produced a working model of his own phonograph. For many, the dispossession of Cros' glory placed French national identity at stake. In this article, I draw from neglected primary sources and hyper-contemporary works of fiction to show how Cros has alternately been erased and glorified as a national hero and mythical inventor. As three distinct waves of attention reveal, no matter if Cros is celebrated or ridiculed, defeat remains his inescapable legacy. Given the fact that attention to Cros persists even after the First Sounds initiative crowned Scott as the earliest recorded human voice in history, I argue that it is therefore Cros' loss of glory that is most intensely felt by the French through time, marking their relationship to the birth of the music industry as a "national tragedy."

Get Hard or Die Trying: Impotence and the Displacement of the White Male in Michel Houellebecq's Sérotonine
André Pettman

Taking up Paul Preciado's theories in his book Testo Junkie (2013) concerning contemporary biocapitalism, this essay argues that Michel Houellebecq's latest novel, Sérotonine (2019), represents a radical move away from the hegemony of the white cis-male, heterosexual body depicted in his earlier literary corpus. The narrator of Sérotonine is stripped of his sexual capacity by an antidepressant that makes him impotent. Once unable to escape the stimuli and commodities designed to incite pleasure, thus leaving the body in a constant state of arousal, Houellebecq's male subject is now unequivocally portrayed as being flaccid. Rather than disclose a sense of reconciliation or resignation with the market, the novel reveals an expulsion from it entirely. The narrator's futile attempts to reinstate his male dominance further demonstrate the totalizing presence of sex, pleasure, and pharmaceutical drugs in Houellebecq's novels and attest to the notion that the once-hegemonic male body of his literary universe is now simply hanging on to life itself as contemporary biocapitalism careens forward on its never-ending quest to maximize pleasure and desire.

A Matter of Life and Death: Michel Houellebecq's Vibrant Materialism
Gai Farchi

Michel Houellebecq's fiction is often perceived as essentially materialistic, in the sense that it follows the decline of humanity in the loss of transcendence, while every human interaction, including love and sex, is reduced to the logic of the capitalist market. Taking on a new materialistic approach, this article aims to challenge this presumption with readings that emphasize the vibrant, subversive nature of materiality in Houellebecq's fiction, particularly in the novels La carte et le territoire and Sérotonine. Drawing on recent new materialistic thought, I show that the shared destiny Houellebecq ascribes to both humans and objects under the logic of late capitalism makes, at times, this interdependence challenging to political economy. Vibrant matter, or the ex-nihilo rise of the "thing" from within the "object", becomes the ultimate rescue of both the human and the non-human in his novels. This perspective enables us to conceive of Houellebecq not merely as a pessimistic voice lamenting the decline of the human, but one that presents affirmative posthuman ethics, undermining the circulation of commodities, and of people as commodities, from the margins of the system itself.

Animal Végétal: Plants and Transhumanism in Contemporary French Literature
Gina Stamm

Transhumanism, or the idea that the boundaries of human subjectivity, bodies, and mortality can be pushed back—often by creating hybrid beings—has long been a staple of science fiction writing, a genre that can serve as a laboratory to explore new ways of relating to machines, animals, and artificial intelligence. But what can this literature tell us about our relationship to plants? This essay analyses three recent works of speculative fiction where these questions are central. Although Michel Houellebecq's La Possibilité d'une île offers the most radical transformation of the human body in genetically adopting plant characteristics, his attitude toward hybrid identity and different forms of being is fundamentally conservative. Marie Darrieussecq's Notre vie dans les forêts draws a parallel between modified human bodies and plants in a parable that highlights the link between exploitation of the vegetal world and exploitation of humans marginalized along gender and class lines. Finally, Pierre Ducrozet's L'Invention des corps offers plants as an alternative evolutionary model for the development of humans as a species and as a society, if we are to survive.

Spatialisation de la Parabole du failli de Lyonel Trouillot
Françoise Cévaër

Dans son roman Parabole du failli (2013), le poète et romancier Lyonel Trouillot rend hommage à son ami disparu, le célèbre comédien haïtien Karl-Marcel Casséus dont il fait ici un poète, médiateur d'un espace imaginaire. Sous son inspiration, l'espace réel, confiné et étriqué, se transforme en un terreau malléable retravaillé par des fragments de poèmes et des imaginaires littéraires et poétiques situés au confluent de plusieurs cultures. Cette relation entre l'homme et l'espace, construit, vécu, ou imaginé, se trouve ici mobilisée par la parabole comme motif primordial de la fiction et allégorie de la condition du poète et du sens de l'existence. A la lumière des récentes théories spatiales francophones telle la géocritique (Westphal) et la géopoétique (Collot), ou encore la perspective plus bigarrée de Gélinas-Lemaire, mais aussi d'approches plus anciennes comme la rêverie poétique du philosophe Gaston Bachelard, cet article propose d'analyser comment l'espace, appréhendé dans sa réalité mais contré par la subjectivité et l'imagination, s'inscrit dans ce roman tout à la fois comme le cadre d'un terrible désenchantement et un horizon libératoire.

En tant que véritable « paradigme heuristique » de l'histoire et du récit, l'allégorie de la parabole s'appréhende également comme la mise en espace même de son propre discours (Maingueneau), c'est-à-dire du discours qui rend l'œuvre possible en lui faisant place et en lui donnant sens, cela aussi au sein du champ littéraire. La représentation littéraire de l'espace est donc pensée ici suivant la triple perspective de sa relation avec: le monde référentiel, la dynamique de la rêverie et la mise en perspective du discours fictionnel. Cet article invite ainsi à une dialectique sur l'espace de l'imaginaire et l'imaginaire de l'espace et à une réflexion sur l'impact de leur narrativité rétrospective dans la négociation auctoriale d'un espace littéraire à habiter.

Cinematic Timekeeper: Bertrand Tavernier and L'Horloger de Saint-Paul
Jennifer Forrest

Film scholars have interpreted Bertrand Tavernier's first feature film L'Horloger de Saint-Paul (1974) as having "clearly signalled his rejection of the nouvelle vague" in favor of a return to a more classical aesthetic reminiscent of the post-World War II Tradition of Quality (Forbes 153). One of the primary elements determining this judgement was Tavernier's co-authoring of the film script with Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, the writing team singled out by Cahiers du cinéma critic François Truffaut in "Une certaine tendance du cinéma français" (1954) as representing the worst of 1950s film.


A Virtuous Knight. Defending Marshal Boucicaut (Jean II Le Meingre, 1366-1421) by Craig Taylor (review)
Charles-Louis Morand-Métivier

The Marquis de Sade and the Avant-Garde by Alyce Mahon (review)
Katharine Conley

Architextual Authenticity: Constructing Literature and Literary Identity in the French Caribbean by Jason Herbeck (review)
Lucy Swanson



Vol. 45.3 Fall 2020




Morphologie de la richesse chez Balzac
Francesco Spandri

La Comédie humaine accorde moins de place au concept de production (propre au XIXe siècle) qu'à celui de richesse (caractéristique de l'âge classique), mais la portée de l'économie politique n'échappe pas à Balzac. Cette science est essentielle pour comprendre le fonctionnement du dispositif fictionnel. Le discours romanesque ne cesse en effet de souligner deux points cruciaux: la multiformité de la richesse et l'effort de l'individu pour maîtriser cette réalité protéiforme. Le mot multiformité est en réalité à prendre comme synonyme de duplicité, puisque le roman balzacien semble concevoir la richesse comme un champ traversé par une tension fondamentale: celle qui marque le rapport entre la terre et l'argent. Ces deux facteurs déterminants de la mimesis balzacienne entretiennent un rapport qui devient de plus en plus asymétrique et qui s'offre comme l'image réfractée d'une société et d'une économie en voie de mutation. Mais ce rapport complexe contribue surtout à construire une représentation capable de saisir les enjeux qui intéressent l'individu moderne. Étudiés simultanément, la terre et l'argent permettent ainsi d'expliciter le lien qui existe entre la forme de la richesse, ses destinations possibles et les enjeux de la liberté individuelle. C'est en se plaçant au point de contact entre deux formes de richesse que le roman balzacien parvient à raconter les mœurs contemporaines.

Le "Napoléon de la réclame": l'antonomase, une "tropomanie" dix-neuvièmiste au prisme de la presse satirique
Luca Di Gregorio

Parmi les traits saillants de l’idiotisme critique du XIXe siècle, il en est un qui frappe par sa récurrence et la place emblématique qu’il s’est adjugée dans les discours journalistiques, et en particulier ceux qui concernent la littérature. Le Walter Scott français, le Gaboriau anglais ou le Gustave Aimard des jungles parisiennes sont autant d’exemples d’antonomases fonctionnalisées pour faire circuler des noms d’écrivains par adossement à des homologues locaux ou jugés plus universels. Peut-être à cause de leur accoutumante redondance, ces notations semblent restées recouvertes d’une sorte de voile d’évidence pour les spécialistes. Perçues comme de simples chevilles rhétoriques du discours, apparemment dénuées de fonctions, elles ont été lues sans être interrogées; et, si certains auteurs ont pu noter leur valeur significative, elles n’ont pas fait l’objet d’une étude plus approfondie.

À la façon d’une “micro-histoire discursive,” l’article s’attachera à objectiver les raisons, enjeux et conditions de la singulière fortune de cette figure qui, à partir de 1820, fait l’objet d’une véritable “tropomanie” dans le débat culturel dix-neuvièmiste, ce dont témoigne un large paratexte, de la presse aux préfaces. Une attention particulière sera portée sur les antonomases les plus récurrentes et les principaux usages du procédé pour le classement des œuvres et la discussion des auteurs. À ces fins, l’examen des antonomases métaphoriques et des auteurs-genres gagnera également à s’enquérir de leurs détournements dans la presse satirique (en particulier Le Charivari et Le Tintamarre), éclairage grossissant et réflexif qui achève de sanctionner la popularité toute dix-neuvièmiste de ce trope.

The Absurdity of the Aftermath in Daoud's Meursault, contre-enquête
Catherine Talley

This essay interrogates the relationship between Kamel Daoud's novel Meursault, contre-enquête and Albert Camus's L'Étranger through an extended reading of Meursault's narrative form. I argue that the complexity of this relationship only fully emerges when Daoud's novel is read as such—not by tallying the aspects that are critical of Camus and those that are sympathetic, but by considering its narrative conception and unfolding. Attending in particular to the key features of its narrative instance and use of metalepsis, I show how Meursault approaches the project of postcolonial counternarrative differently than canonical remakes, emphasizing the experiences that render 'writing back' impossible. Through an exploration of the aftermath of colonial violence and the forms of irremediable epistemic and ethical uncertainty it produces, Daoud redefines absurdity, from the nihilistic universal articulated by the narrator of L'Étranger, to a historical condition linked to the history and legacies of colonial violence—a definition of absurdity that I argue places him in close relationship to Camus, and particularly the Camus of La Chute.

Re-Gendering the Hold: Fabienne Kanor's Ecological "Quarrel with History"
Franck H. Andrianarivo

This essay argues for an ecofeminist rendering of Fabienne Kanor's neo-slave narrative Humus (2006). My contention is that Kanor's text supports a sustainable initiative concerned with the preservation of minor histories of enslavement. I show how, operating like a fertilizer, so to speak, Humus supplies nutrients in the form of twelve individual narratives that the author has imagined from an apparently trivial anecdote recuperated from the on-board journal of a French ship captain written in 1774. Dissatisfied with Captain Louis Mosnier's dry depiction of fourteen enslaved Black women who chose to jump off his ship in a desperate attempt to escape enslavement, Kanor reshuffles his narrative by filling in the gaps left in his dehumanizing account of the women's discontinued non-history with Humus. To this end, she stresses the elusive presence of these women in the hold and the subversive role they played in the resistance to bondage, thereby refashioning knowledge of the slave trade and slavery with a gendered perspective. In her quest to revitalize and protect the women's "Arbre d'essence sacrée [Tree of sacred essence]" (68) made vulnerable by the ongoing colonizing actions of humans, Kanor, like Edouard Glissant in Le Discours antillais, "quarrel[s] with History" (222) to re-create beauty and being from the scraps of the captives' existences that l'Histoire had automatically relegated to the periphery of humanity.

Screening the Unwitnessed: An Analysis of the Close-Up in La noire de . . .
Andrew Jones

On June 22, 1958, Gomis Diouana, a young Senegalese woman who followed her colonial employers to France to work in their household, committed suicide. If it were not for Ousmane Sembene, her tragedy would have sunk into obscurity, its only public record being a short article in the faits-divers section of Nice-Matin two days later. But encountering this woman's tragic fate inspired Sembene to write a short story that he then adapted to the screen, La noire de…. In this 1966 film, the young Senegalese protagonist's tragedy unfolds through a series of close-up shots showing Diouana's emotional states. Frequently, the camera closes in on Diouana's face while her eyes look away. Contrasting these close-ups with those of other characters who look intently at the camera and with the post-Holocaust look-to-camera shot, I argue that a new form of cinematic testimony emerges in response to the suffering of colonialism, namely a screening of the unwitnessed. Informed by Michael Rothberg's notion of multidirectionality, my investigation of the cinematic and historical context of the film places the trauma of colonialism present in La noire de… in dialogue with the contemporaneously circulating memories of the Holocaust and their influence on cinema and society. Beyond exposing the severity and continuity of colonial suffering, the juxtaposition of these close-up shots points to a contributing cause: the absence of any public willing to receive the testimony of colonial injustice.

Self-Narrative, the Law, and Garden Spaces in Sylvaine Dampierre's Un Enclos
Lisa Connell

Garden spaces have long occupied imaginations as sites and sources of self-narrative at the same time as they have served as historical spaces of criminal rehabilitation. However, representations of gardens that bridge these apparently binary conceptions of agency and coercion are scarce. This article examines the correlation between gardens, the law, and self-narrative that runs throughout Sylvaine Dampierre's 1999 documentary Un Enclos in the aim of broadening how women's self-narrative can be understood. It argues that the juridical framework that shapes the socio-historical contexts of the garden in the Rennes women penitentiary in Un Enclos also determines the forms of self-narrative that occur in this space. This article thus reads the garden space of the prison through the lens of feminist approaches to self- and women's prison narratives, and through Foucault's formulation of disciplinary power. This garden space, far from representing a simple metaphor of renewal, should be recognized instead as a manifestation of power that mirrors the social and historical constraints that delimit subjectivity. From this perspective, the semiotics of gardens provide a valuable map for navigating the complicated landscape of self-narrative.


The Tongue-Tied Imagination: Decolonizing Literary Modernity in Senegal by Tobias Warner (review)
Brian Valente-Quinn

Screening Youth: Contemporary French and Francophone Cinema ed. by Romain Chareyon and Gilles Viennot (review)
Leon Sachs

La Commune de 1871: Une relecture ed. by Marc César and Laure Godineau (review)
Daryl Lee

Exterranean: Extraction in the Humanist Anthropocene by Phillip John Usher (review)
Antónia Szabari



Vol. 45.2 Summer 2020




Le rire au service de la tyrannie dans: L'Homme qui rit, de Victor Hugo
Julie Hugonny

Dans L'Homme qui rit, de Victor Hugo, Gwynplaine suscite l'hilarité des foules, qui payent pour voir son visage grotesquement déformé. Personnage « dénué d'humour » selon Joe Friedmann, il ne rit jamais.

Gwynplaine apparaît alors comme le porteur contagieux mais sain d'un virus auquel il est lui-même immunisé. Les modalités de cette contagion sont un foyer d'infection unique, lui-même et un contact direct. Il est un phénomène dont il faut faire l'expérience à la source. Ce rire est contagieux, mais pas épidémique, il ne se communique pas d'homme à homme en son absence.

Le rire de Gwynplaine pervertit ainsi son message personnel, un message révolutionnaire d'égalité, qu'il délivre dans un discours vite noyé sous les rires provoqués par son apparence physique. En effet, pour Marie-Hélène Huet, si l'épidémie est propice aux idées révolutionnaires, portées par l'air du temps, la contagion, elle, correspond à un mode de pensée conservateur : on peut la contenir, et confiner les cas dangereux afin d'étouffer l'infection. Et c'est bien un effet antirévolutionnaire qu'a ce rire sur le peuple : leur permettant d'oublier leur misère le temps d'un spectacle, il retarde d'autant un vrai soulèvement populaire. C'est ainsi que le rire de Gwynplaine, ce rire tyrannique et contagieux, trahit son message et entérine malgré lui le status quo.

Pederasty and/as Narrative Form: André Gide's Queer Coinages
Ian Fleishman

Reading André Gide's novel Les Faux-monnayeurs (1924) through the lens of Kadji Amin's recent reflections on the historiographically unsteady category of modern pederasty, this article aspires to an understanding of queer as a distinctly narrative model of playfully contrived identity formation. Attention to how queer identities are forged in Gide, and historically in his wake, I argue, will allow new insights into queer theory's perpetual efforts at self-(re)invention.

"C'est quoi cette histoire (de révolution)?": Leslie Kaplan et l'invention du lieu commun
Èric Trudel

Cet article revient sur quelques textes récents de Leslie Kaplan – et tout particulièrement Mathias et la Révolution (2016) – pour s'interroger sur ce qui reste de la puissance émancipatrice de la littérature à notre époque. Au-delà de l'enjeu mémoriel que représente Mai 68 et, plus largement, la reprise du grand récit révolutionnaire, il s'agit ici de montrer que la question de que ce peut encore l'écriture repose chez Kaplan sur une pratique à première vue paradoxale du lieu commun.

Literature Underwater: The Oceanic Becomings of Nothomb and Darrieussecq
Gai Farchi

Current approaches within the humanities wish to represent nature beyond anthropocentric limits. In this article, I examine this approach through the trope of the water and the oceanic in Amélie Nothomb's novel Métaphysique des tubes and Marie Darrieussecq's Le mal de mer. Against the Freudian notion of the "Oceanic Feeling," in which the ocean is reduced to a mere metaphor of a firm dissolution of the ego, the literary articulation of oceanic space in these works render it a productive force, unremittingly changing, and differentiating from itself. In essence, the works show that water is not necessarily inert, stable, and calm: water can definitely be inert, but also tremulous, productive, and creative. For that, the oceanic has to be perceived as a movement between finitude and infinitude, not as a limit defined "outside" of life correspondingly to Freud, but as a limit within life, or perhaps, a limit that the motion towards it is life itself. Thus, they invite us to conceive the ocean in a posthuman fashion: not as a clichéd literary metaphor of the exotic force of nature, but as a true manifestation of constant differing and becoming—utterly the process which composes both literature and life.

Entre signal reçu et crypté: Pierre Alferi's Poetics of Remediation
Victoria Bergstrom

The contemporary poet Pierre Alferi made a brief but notable foray into experimental filmmaking in the early 2000s. Taking seriously his assertion that when he extends his poetic work into audiovisual formats it is in order to "essayer la même chose avec d'autres moyens" (inTIME 17), this article investigates what Alferi's experimentation across media might clarify about his approach to poetry as, above all, a collection of "moyens." The regular cross-contamination between audiovisual media and literature in Alferi's work has generally been accounted for in light of this poet's unveiled obsession with the celluloid cinematic image: lines of poetry are broken in pursuit of montage effects, the vertical seriality of the poem interpellates that of the film strip, etc. The central objective of this article is to set aside the assumed primacy of film in Alferi's creative imaginary and re-center the discussion of the relationship between poetry and audiovisual media on the more varied media ecology within which his intermedial experiments actually takes place. Through readings of a sequence from the film Intime and of the 1994 poetry collection Kub or, both of which foreground the mediation and re-mediation of images via analog television transmission, I argue that models of remediation that shift images away from the concrete existence of celluloid in fact offer more complex and supple ways of thinking about the influence of image technologies on Alferi's poetics.

Eco-epistemology and Eschatology: Examining the Savior Complex in Jacques Roumain's Gouverneurs de la rosée and Patrick Chamoiseau's Les neuf consciences du Malfini
David Vivian

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we often couch our present catastrophe of climate change in eschatological terms. In Greek, "apocalypse" signifies to "uncover, disclose"—the savior figure thus serves to enlighten us (OED). This trope of an enlightened messiah finds expression in two environmentally focused Caribbean novels: Jacques Roumain's Gouverneurs de la rosée and Patrick Chamoiseau's Les neuf consciences du Malfini. Although largely different, these novels both imply that humanity and the Earth need saving by exceptional figures. Outside the domain of fiction, recent groups such as the "Ecomodernists" have staked out technological ingenuity as our best way out of otherwise sure ecological disaster. Whether our salvation will stem from an extraordinary individual or profound technological advancement, these suggestions point to an apocalyptic end barring something bordering on the miraculous. My question, then, centers on this persistent anxiety: is modern eco-epistemology beset by a savior complex? What I wish to explore at present is how this tendency likely inhibits our ability to effectively act in a way that best mitigates the impending damage. Rather than argue, however, that these two novels are guilty of stymying collective action, I will contend that they are simply symptomatic of this proclivity—typical in Western literature—to produce savior figures. Furthermore, I will explore their nuanced approaches to the difficulties of representing an earth in ecological crisis, and how we might find alternatives to the capitalistic mode that has drastically accelerated environmental devastation.

La didactique magique de Roland Barthes.: Les séminaires expérimentaux à l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
Claudia Amigo Pino

This paper explores the didactic proposed by Roland Barthes at his last years as a director of studies at the École de Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (1971–1976). During that period, Barthes reflected on teaching with his students, published texts on the subject (such as « Écrivains, Intellectuels, Professeurs » and « Au séminaire »), and, above all, developed experimental didactic strategies in his seminar. In order to understand that didactic conception of Barthes as a whole, we refer first to the "fugue points" of his "dreamed seminar" ("non-knowledge", literary procedures and plural presentation), announced at the seminar of 1971–1972 ("Ten years of semiology: the Theory of the Text"), then to the thinkers who served as a basis for his pedagogical experimentation (Benveniste, Nietzsche and Bataille) and, finally, to the subjects and the concrete activities proposed at the seminars "The problems of thesis and research" (1972–1973), "The lexicon of the author" (1973–1974) and the two seminars named "The loving speech" (1974–1975 and 1975–1976), which can be considered his most radical courses. This description was made possible by consulting Barthes' manuscripts, at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and also by consulting the personal archives and texts of Barthes' students, besides the published seminars by Editions du Seuil.


Degenerative Realism. Novel and Nation in Twenty-First-Century France by Christy Wampole (review)
Patrick Lyons

Victims of the Book. Reading and Masculinity in Fin-de-Siècle France by François Proulx (review)
Diana Holmes

Vol. 45.1 Spring 2020




Civilisés ou barbares? Chinois et Tartares à l'époque des Lumières
Yunfei Bai

Partant de la célèbre dispute qui oppose Rousseau et Voltaire au sujet du progrès des sociétés humaines, nous montrons d'abord que l'exemple des conquêtes tartares de la Chine y occupe une place de choix et que la façon dont les deux penseurs français des Lumières appréhendent le couple Chinois-Tartare dépend non seulement d'un positionnement idéologique préexistant mais aussi des sources où chacun puise ses informations. En faisant un pas de plus dans l'analyse philologique des documents tibétains, nous montrons ensuite que les points de vue contrastés que Voltaire et Rousseau livrent sur les Chinois "civilisés" et les Tartares "barbares" font écho à la manière dont les peuples d'Asie eux-mêmes, indépendamment des préjugés européens, se dénomment et se représentent les uns les autres.

Jeux d'eau et de lumière: Proust, de Man, Sedgwick et le placard de lecture
Maxime Philippe

Dans Sodome et Gomorrhe, le narrateur décrit « le célèbre jet d'eau d'Hubert Robert ». Plusieurs critiques, dont Eve Sedgwick, distinguent dans ce blason de la fontaine une allégorie de la lecture. Cet article commence par une analyse de l'ekphrasis de ce jet d'eau dans la Recherche, puis contraste la lecture de Georges Poulet, qui recourt également à l'image de la fontaine, et celle d'Eve Sedgwick, notamment en ce qui a trait à la notion de temps. Contrairement à l'universalisme existentialiste de Poulet, Sedgwick introduit un point de vue typiquement féministe et queer. L'auteur ensuite démontre comment cette autre allégorie de la lecture et de la Recherche s'inscrit dans le prolongement du travail de Paul de Man. Enfin, l'auteur met en évidence comment le blason de la fontaine chez Sedgwick s'appuie sur ses lectures précédentes de Proust dans Epistemology of the Closet et fait écho à une autre allégorie : celle du placard de lecture. On peut ainsi retracer les métamorphoses de la théorie queer. La lecture par Sedgwick de l'allégorie de la fontaine met en évidence comment la théorie queer mène d'une critique systématique des caractérisations normatives de la sexualité à une déconstruction du sujet moderne qu'elles présupposent.

Tactility in Valéry's Aesthetics: Fragment and Duration
Daniel Rosenberg

The tactile experience plays a major role in Paul Valéry's work. In Valéry's view, touch, or tactility takes part in the aesthetic experience not only at the immediate level, as an actual sensation, but also at the imaginary level, as a virtual experience which shapes human perception and consciousness. The very movement of the hand and the body, and its interaction with objects, endow the creative action with contingency and unpredictability. This notion of tactility is used by Valéry to emphasize the fragmented and discontinuous nature of the creative process, which eludes prior models and intentions. Most originally, Valéry frames touch as endowing matter with a certain temporal sequence or rhythm, rhythm which then proceeds to "infect" the recipients of the work. The article draws on late 19th and early 20th century discourse on tactility and temporality, in the domains of poetics, science, and technology, in order to contextualize Valéry's ideas and to stress their synthetic value and their originality. Special attention is given to Valéry's essay on Degas, as a piece which showcases this notion of tactility, both at the explicit level, in Valéry's analysis of Degas' work and method, and at the formal level, as a way to participate and pursue the painter's immanent rhythm.

Communicating Difference: Charlotte Delbo and Holocaust Testimony
Charlotte F. Werbe

This article examines how Charlotte Delbo, a concentration camp survivor and resistance member, employs a structure of comparison in Les Belles lettres (1961) and in Mesure de nos jours (1971). In the former, Delbo recirculates letters about the Algerian War that were published in the French media between 1959-1961. In these letters, World War II is frequently invoked as a point of reference, setting up a structure of juxtaposition between it and the conflict in North Africa. While event and event are compared in Les Belles lettres, testimony and testimony are compared in Mesure de nos jours, a volume comprised of brief testimonial vignettes describing the process of reintegration in France after the Holocaust. Although Les Belles lettres is generically and thematically distinct from Mesure de nos jours, its composition offers insight into the ways that Delbo stages comparison as a process

Improbable Grief: Mavrikakis' Onomastic Practices of Memorialization
Julie Robert

Names and numbers, mostly in the form of statistics, each play a role in the memorialization of collective tragedies. Names have nonetheless been privileged as that which humanizes the experience and subsumes affectless questions of scale to the personal. Writing at a time when AIDS was transitioning from a fatal epidemic to a chronic disease, Catherine Mavrikakis uses a fictocritical approach in Deuils cannibales et mélancoliques (2000) to relay for readers the receding experience of AIDS as an epidemic. A singular name, Hervé, an intertextual reference to the work of Hervé Guibert and Mavrikakis' own scholarship on Guibert's AIDS writings, functions as an indexical sign. Through repetition and conferral upon multiple (mostly HIV-positive) characters, Hervé – as name – becomes the metonymic means by which the coldness of numbers and the weight of mass tragedy are made appreciable, for the name acquires new semantic meaning through disassociation with individual characters. Breaking with conventions of naming and characterisation, Mavrikakis' complex and confusing text challenges readers to make sense of the interplay of names and numbers, individuals and groups, in memorial practices for what has become an endemic tragedy.

Les Années: Album-photo d'une vocation?
Yona Hanhart-Marmor

This articles examines the ambivalent passages which separate, in Annie Ernaux's Les Années, the photographic descriptions from the narration. It supports the idea that these undefinable passages reveal, apart from he book's stated aim – constituting the autobiography of an era – another crucial issue allowing us to read Les Années as the story of a vocation as a writer. We should then read Les Années as the story of its own birth. This dimension becomes apparent in the book with the growing importance of references to Proust's Recherche, which tells the story of it's own emergence

Julia Deck's Geometries
Warren Motte

Second novels are often where literary careers are made, or on the contrary where they founder. Julia Deck's Le Triangle d'hiver (2014) amply fulfills the rich promise of her first novel, Viviane Élisabeth Fauville (2012), putting on display a pleasing lightness of touch and an impressive degree of narrative confidence. That latter quality serves Deck particularly well, for the story she tells contains more than a few twists. Things are constantly in flux in this novel, and appearances are in some ways more reliable than realities. Even the most attentive of readers is likely to nonplussed at some point. But that sort of narrative sleight of hand is part of Deck's wager, of course; and like any successful feat of prestidigitation, it relies on our willingness to be fooled.

Œuvide! Œuvide! Verbalization and Corporality in the Poetry of Christian Prigent
Peter Poiana

The poetry of Christian Prigent focuses on the act of articulation involving both the body as a site of muscular movements and language as a codified system. This act is captured in the figure of the œuvide as a conflation of œuvre / œuf and vide insofar it conforms to the structure of desire and the void that lies at its centre. The study aims to gauge the significance of the œuvide by taking into account Prigent's theoretical and critical writings, including his explicit reference to Lacan. It proceeds by introducing two concepts that Prigent does not often refer to, namely full speech and imaginary excess, with the aim of showing how the melding of verbalization and corporality functions in Prigent's now substantial body of poetic work. Full speech appears in its association with the void around which Prigent's poetry gravitates in line with the negative logic of desire, and imaginary excess accounts for the role of the fantasized body and the constant interplay of body parts in the context of a poetic strategy that seeks to foreground the physical site of verbal emission. The notion of sceptical Cratylism is introduced to round out the analysis, specifically by demonstrating how Prigent, in presenting his version of verbal embodiment, avoids reducing the body to either the rule of representation or the idea of nature.



Balzac, L'invention de la sociologie ed. by Andrea Del Lungo and Pierre Glaudes (review)
Scott Sprenger

L'École de la maladresse: de J.-J. Rousseau à J. J. Grandville by Pauline de Tholozany (review)
Marina van Zuylen

World War II in Andreï Makine's Historiographic Metafiction: "No One is Forgotten, Nothing is Forgotten" by Helena Duffy (review)
Adrian Wanner

Impostors. Literary Hoaxes and Cultural Authenticity by Christopher L. Miller (review)
Lydie Moudileno



Vol. 44.3 Winter 2019


Les épiphanies littéraires sont des jalons qui marquent un basculement du texte au moyen d’une révélation, d’une prise de conscience ou encore d’une apparition soudaine. Cet article se penche sur les épiphanies du texte Là-Bas, premier roman du cycle de Durtal de J. K. Huysmans. Nous abordons celles-ci comme des instants décisifsdu tissu narratif inscrit dans la durée. Nous traitons ces moments-pivots du roman selon les thématiques liées de la clarté et de l’obscurité, en dégageant les occurrences de dévoilement dans lesquels le narrateur exprime un recadrage du protagoniste sur son désir. Il s’agit de montrer comment la voix narrative traite les épiphanies du texte comme des événements où une lumière se fait sur plusieurs lignes de fictions. Nous suivons les trois quêtes narratives que sont l’esthétique, l’amour et la transcendance. Nous montrons comment du fait de la présence de moments-pivots ces lignes se rencontrent pour constituer un réseau narratif d’expérimentation de Durtal dans une polarité tendue entre sacré et diabolisme. Nousnous attachons enfin à dégager comment les épiphanies articulent sur le mode du dévoilement la quête d’un sens eschatologique, esthétique et éthique faite à la fois d’avancées et de reculs.

Julien Green: L’écrivain double in Self-Translation
Genevieve Waite

As a translingual Franco-American author who was born in Paris in 1900, Julian Hartridge Green cultivated one of the longest literary careers of the twentieth century. Although French and American scholars have examined questions relating to Green’s bilingualism, his temporary sojourns in the United States, and the representations of America in his fiction, none have yet offered a detailed assessment of his self-translated texts. A comparative, critical analysis of two essays and one article from Green’s bilingual works, Le langage et son double and L’homme et son ombre, will, therefore, correct this dearth of scholarship. More specifically, an investigation of the linguistic and semantic discrepancies that occur in three self-translated texts, “On Keeping a Diary” / “Tenir un journal,” “An Experiment in English” / “Une expérience en anglais,” and “Paris” / “On Paris,” will reveal the extent to which Green cultivates two very different narrative personas in translation. In English, Green’s narrative voice is meek and unassuming, and he exhibits a unique American sense of identity while substantially revising his work to address his American readers. By comparison, in French, he forges a distinct French sense of identity while adopting a more assertive, confident, and speculative narrative tone. By frequently employing translative techniques of revision in his bilingual work, Green constructs an astonishing, double identity in self-translation.

Un grain de sable, deux grains de blé
Raphaël Sigal

Dans cet essai, j’explore la figure du grain dans des textes d’Edmond Jabès et Walter Benjamin. Je tented’y mettre à jour une économie d’écriture qui sous-tend leurs œuvres écrites en exil. Lorsque les cartes géographiques sont chamboulées par les déplacements forcés, le livre devient, pour eux, un espace de conservation de la mémoire et figure la possibilité d’un lieu qui tienne dans la poche, ou dans le creux de la main. À partir d’un grain de sable et de deux grains de blés, Jabès et Benjamin envisagent ainsi une métonymie aussi radicale qu’existentielle :concentrer le maximum de monde en un minimum d’espace.

Trauma, Language, and Literature: Psycholinguistic Dynamics in Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt’s Autobiographical Writing in Response to World War II
Heidi Brown

Born in Germany in 1929, Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt was classified as a Jew under the Nuremberg racial laws of 1935. During the Holocaust, he found refuge at a boarding school in France at the age of ten. Because he acquired German and French in distinct contexts, Goldschmidt is considered to be a coordinate bilingual who experiences “language independence.” This has significant psychological implications because different variations of object relations, ego boundaries, psychic structures, and attachment systems were encoded into his languages. Consequently, Goldschmidt was able to distance himself from trauma and modulate the intensity of his emotions through his useof language. At first, German held many positive connotations linked to his family and childhood; however, the rise of Nazism caused it to become inextricably tied to violence, trauma, and genocide. Goldschmidt came to view French as a language of protection, liberation, and healing. In French, Goldschmidt was able to become more aware of a wordless, unspeakable experience located at the center of his being. At first, he was not able to articulate trauma using his own words; however, he was able to recognize elements of it in literature. When reading, Goldschmidt projected himself into texts, and experienced himself as actually becoming the fictional characters. Inhabiting alternate literary personas allowed him to process trauma in an indirect way, break out of intense isolation, re-establish the legitimacy of his identity, and re-inscribe himself into the shared space of humanity.

How to Read Barthes: Autobiography’s Intimacy Effect
Youna Kwak

After Roland Barthes’s unexpected death in March 1980, the posthumous publication of two of his “diaries,” whose existence had only been known to a handful of people, sparked controversy among his literary executors, family, former students, and friends. Although various commentators took sides over which of the two texts was the most compromising, significantly, the consensus among readers seemed to be that some texts are too intimate to publish. The move by Barthes’s interlocutors to designate some texts as “intimate” above others, and to locate a prohibition against publishing in this essential quality of “intimacy,” reveals an unresolved tension between the postmodern distrust of autobiographical veracity on the one hand, and readerly desire and fantasy, on the other. Further, this ambiguous and often self-contradictory position is one that Barthes himself increasingly claimed and privileged in his own late works, including his seminars Le Neutre and La Préparation du roman.

Penser la différence anthropologique: une lecture croisée de Quignard et Bimbenet
Cristina Álvares

Dans un contexte épistémologique où, sous la pression de la crise écologique et des avancées des biotechnologies, se développe une reconceptualisation de la nature, de l’homme et de l’homme dans la nature, la question de la différence anthropologique est au cœur de grands débats scientifiques, philosophiques, éthiques et politiques, au sein desquels émergent, avec la critique de l’humanisme anthropocentrique, la délégitimation de la différence entre humains et animaux et le postulat de l’animalité humaine. Cet article propose une lecture croisée de deux auteurs, le philosophe Étienne Bimbenet et l’écrivain Pascal Quignard, qui pensent la différence anthropologique en référence à l’anthropogenèse conçue comme devenir-humain du vivant. Tout en partageant un naturalisme non métaphysique et non biologiste enrichi des contributions des sciences humaines, Quignard et Bimbenet élaborent des perceptions divergentes sur le postulat de l’animalité humaine. Celles-ci s’appuient sur des conceptions du temps différentes : temps orienté du passé animal de l’homme chez Bimbenet; temps in-orienté de l’actualité du Jadis animal de l’homme chez Quignard. La divergence découle aussi des différents points de focalisation choisis : la production de l’humain se déroulant intégralement dans le cadre de la physis animale chez Quignard ; la forme de vie spécifiquement humaine comme produit de l’anthropogenèse chez Bimbenet. Bien que les deux auteurs convergent sur l’idée que l’homme est un vivant exceptionnel et que l’exceptionnalité se manifeste notamment dans l’ultrasocialité, ils divergent sur la valeur politique et morale de celle-ci.

L’empire des nerfs: l’échec de la civilisation et la violence postmoderne dans l’œuvre de Yasmina Reza
Luis Villamia

Dans toute ĺœuvre de Yasmina Reza, aussi bien théâtrale que romanesque, on constate certaines pulsions qui apparaissent de façon récurrente. Mais, s’il y a un trait caractéristique dans tous ses textes, c’est la violence. Ses personnages, tel des volcans apparemment éteints qui entrent soudain s en éruption, révélant très souvent une identité sauvage. Cette violence se manifeste surtout dans les espaces les plus intimes de la vie quotidienne et est très représentative de l’ère postmoderne, dans la mesure où elle résulte d’une nouvelle forme de construction de l’identité.

Ces personnages colériques ne sont pas seulement les protagonistes d’un monde où la violence est omniprésente, mais vont également venir remettre en question certaines valeurs défendues dans le discours postmoderne, telles que le "vivre ensemble" ou la notion de tolérance, qu’ils considèrent vides de sens, et appellent donc à s’en méfier. Dans les fictions de Reza, ce sont les groupes sociaux ayant apparemment reçu la meilleure éducation et appartenant certainement à l’élite de la civilisation occidentale qui vont présenter de façon plus accentuée cette espèce d’indifférence morale, typique de notre époque, ce que Zygmunt Bauman qualifia d’ “adiaphorisation”. Malgré leur comportement agressif, excessif et coléreux, les personnages habituels de Reza présentent une grande vulnérabilité, les exposant à la solitude et l’amertume.



France in Flux: Space, Territory, and Contemporary Culture by Ari J. Blatt and Edward Welch (review)
Anne Cirella-Urrutia

Poetry, Politics & the Body in Rimbaud: Lyrical Material by Robert St. Clair, and: Arthur Rimbaud by Seth Whidden (review)
Thomas C. Connolly

Middlebrow Matters: Women’s Reading and the Literary Canon in France since the Belle Époque by Diana Holmes (review)
Anne O’Neil-Henry