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Narratives of French Modernity

Themes, Forms and Metamorphoses- Essays in Honour of David Gascoigne


Edited By Lorna Milne and Mary Orr

Inspired by the work of their colleague David Gascoigne, a group of scholars from the UK and France examine in this book the narrative strategies of some of the most interesting and important French writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Stretching chronologically from 1905 to 2005, the volume examines a wide variety of prose genres, from pornography to Bildungsroman to magic realism, as well as poetry. Michel Tournier figures in several of the contributions, emerging as something of a touchstone for many of the thematic preoccupations that are common throughout the period: values and authority, self and other, identity, spirituality, migration and exile, sexuality, the body, violence and war, and language. The authors also examine the flourishing of intertextuality, as well as the use of traditional forms, such as mythical structures and the ‘robinsonade’, to undermine authoritative ‘métarécits’. Probing these themes and forms, and their metamorphoses across 100 years, the essays demonstrate a striking degree of continuity, linking writers as different as Apollinaire and Houellebecq or Valéry and Fleutiaux, and highlight the difficulty of dividing the period neatly into chronologically ordered categories labelled ‘modern’ or ‘postmodern’.


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Ian Higgins - A Void to Avoid a Void -39


Ian Higgins A Void to Avoid a Void All right – go; if you must; but just not too far away, or for too long without coming back. Such is our wish. For David, having months ago withdrawn from his tutorial and musical posts, naturally with all apt partying, honour and laud – not unmost his unlong-ago raising to Gallic Knight of Scholarly Palms status – is now, alas, away for good from this historic burgh. My task is to try to say what this loss is for us. David G was first brought to our cognition at this stool of scholarship in 1975, having sought and won a post with us in imparting things Gallic. Dipping post-Cantab (having brought of f a First-Class Honours tri- umph in study of linguistico-narratorial af fairs of Gallic authors and said 40 Ian Higgins authors’ ultrariparian Nachbarn) into school instructorship, DG soon quit it again. Distinctly, this was not his loss, but his pupils’. Discarding school for varsity, DG (why not ‘DJG’, as it would stand in full, I do not know – mayhap to husband ink?) for sixty months all told did two stints – highly fruitful not only for him, but for all around him, and in many kinds of human truck, not just tutorship – at Warwick (first) and at UCD. During his last months in Dublin, DG got his job with us, from which point on our only unknown was his cast of mind and soul, his stamp. At our first joint taking of a...

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