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Parody and Palimpsest

Intertextuality, Language, and the Ludic in the Novels of Jean-Philippe Toussaint


Sarah L. Glasco

Parody and Palimpsest: Intertextuality, Language, and the Ludic in the Novels of Jean-Philippe Toussaint adds to the emerging body of work on intertextuality through expansion of critical examinations of the novels of this award-winning author, presenting him as the ultimate magister ludi. Sarah L. Glasco links Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s novels to cross-disciplinary texts that include not only Russian, American, and Japanese literatures, but also film and visual art. Toussaint alludes to the works of numerous French canonical authors, such as Pascal, Flaubert, Gide, Proust, and Apollinaire, with a multicultural mix of Faulkner, Beckett, Nabokov, and Kawabata, for instance, and the works of filmmakers, painters, and ancient philosophers like Wong Karwai, Mark Rothko, and Aristotle. Ultimately, intertextuality in Toussaint’s novels is linked to global cultures and new media via his contemporary literary landscapes. This in-depth study reveals, presents, and analyzes a multiplicity of intertexts, depicting the inner workings of their playful relationships to the texts as a whole, how they are intricately interwoven into Toussaint’s narratives, and also how they relate to one another. Through a process of rereading and reinterpreting Toussaint’s texts, Parody and Palimpsest illuminates both linguistic and narrative subversions, parodies, and pastiches, and, subsequently, Toussaint’s ludic landscapes emerge. Readers are then able to unmask other identities his texts can embody in order to rediscover them through the language, literature, art, products, and thus culture of others.
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Thank you Yves de la Quérière for teaching me so much and believing in me. This book would have never happened without you. Your brilliance and your sense of humor sustained and inspired me in graduate school, and made me love literature more than I thought possible. Thank you as well to Warren Motte and Alain-Philippe Durand for taking the time to read the book in your very spare time. I hope you understand how grateful I am for that. Thank you Jean-Philippe Toussaint for permission to use your beautiful photograph “La bibliothèque de Canton.” Your generosity of spirit is much appreciated. A huge thank you to my fabulous colleagues and friends Sophie Rigolot Adamson and Olivia Jones Choplin for their on-going support of this project. Vous êtes des trésors. Thank you to my parents Carroll Hill Glasco, Jr. and Laurel Bulger Glasco for always encouraging me no matter what I wanted to do in life. Many parents push pragmatism over passion on their kids, and you never imposed this mentality on me. Having the emotional space and freedom to pursue your passions is just as important, if not moreso, as the financial means and innate abilities, and this gift is not lost on me. Finally, thank you Ed, Quinn, and Sasha for your patience. Indeed, all your patience.← vii | viii →

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