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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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Michael Kelly - Mounier Multivocalist: Towards a Multiple Articulation of the French Experience of Black Africa -85


Michael Kelly Mounier Multivocalist: Towards a Multiple Articulation of the French Experience of Black Africa Emmanuel Mounier experienced more than one culture shock in his encounter with Africa, and his accounts of it in L’Éveil de l’Afrique noire (1948) were correspondingly complex and multi-layered. The voices with which Mounier conveys his experience are neatly encapsulated in the epi- sode where he visits a Senegalese teacher training college for women: A la directrice, Mlle Paquet, très intimement liée aux Romain Rolland, et qui en porte la f lamme apostolique, je dois une très curieuse expérience. Comme elle rejetait un à un, les trouvant tous au-dessus du niveau de ses élèves, les sujets de conférence que je lui proposais, j’aperçus dans ses rayons une anthologie de Péguy. Je lui of frais de lire et de commenter quelques textes. La réussite fut étonnante. Sauf La Fontaine pour les contes d’animaux, rien ne rejoint plus aisément que Péguy la littérature orale du monde noir, avec cette manière de s’installer dans un temps sans fin, ces retours inces- sants du rythme sur lui-même, jusqu’aux malices qui fusent en éclair dans les failles du lyrisme. J’ai recommencé trois fois l’expérience avec le même bonheur.1 With the instinct of an educator, Emmanuel Mounier demonstrates a suc- cessful strategy for making his voice heard in an unfamiliar classroom. He accepts expert advice, adopts material suitable to his audience and speaks through the...

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