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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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Chapter 2. La Salle de bain: (Re)cycling Through Time


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(Re)cycling Through Time

Semantics and the Saugrenu

Ludic lexical fields and semantic incongruities constitute key elements of the narrative style of La Salle de bain. One of the very first scenes readers encounter in La Salle de bain exemplifies incongruity in using elements considered saugrenus, or out of place. The narrator has been spending so much time in the bathroom that it has become his living room, the bathtub his couch. Thus, Edmondsson decides that it is time to alert his parents. The narrator’s mother shows up, and since he refuses to leave the bathroom, she must go in:

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