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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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Peter Read - Apollinaire’s Voluptuous Calvary: Lexical Fields, Generic Conventions and Narrative Space in Les Onze mille verges -47


Peter Read Apollinaire’s Voluptuous Calvary: Lexical Fields, Generic Conventions and Narrative Space in Les Onze mille verges Apollinaire’s literary reputation depends largely on the success of his two main poetry collections, Alcools (1913) and Calligrammes (1918). During his lifetime, however, he was well known as an erudite editor of erotic classics of European literature. He co-edited a catalogue of L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque nationale and his contributions to the ‘Bibliothèque des Curieux’ series included editions of writings by Aretino, Baf fo, Nerciat, Cleland, Crébillon and extracts from other banned books. His 1909 anthol- ogy of writings by Sade included an inf luential Introduction which pre- sented ‘the Divine Marquis’ as ‘cet esprit le plus libre qui ait encore existé’ and also promoted his character Juliette as a model for future generations of assertive, independent and high-f lying women: compared with Justine, ‘l’ancienne femme, asservie, misérable’, Juliette represents ‘la femme nouvelle qu’il [Sade] entrevoyait, un être dont on n’a pas encore idée, qui se dégage de l’humanité, qui aura des ailes et qui renouvellera l’univers’.1 In his 1918 edition of Baudelaire’s poetry, Apollinaire declared that Les Fleurs du mal were a banner of freedom to be raised high in times of intolerance and dictatorship, ‘afin d’ameuter le petit nombre des esclaves toujours frémis- sants’ (Pr (3) 875). Apollinaire’s philosophy was thus both libertine and 1 Guillaume Apollinaire, Œuvres en prose complètes, vol. 3, edited, presented and anno- tated by Pierre Caizergues and...

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