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Places and Spaces in French War Fiction of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries


Peter Tame

This monograph is the first book to examine places and spaces in French war fiction of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. These places and spaces are presented as literary isotopias, or fictional «worlds», and analysed in a selective corpus of thirty-three novelists and forty-two examples of war fiction. The book identifies and classifies the various types of isotopia that appear in fiction in the form of scenes, images or literary microcosms. The author establishes four isotopic modes – possession, dispossession or loss, alienation, and repossession – by which means the isotopias are expressed. The spaces considered include territorial demands, gains, possessions, losses and national spaces, as well as internal mental spaces.
The corpus of novels selected for this project covers a wide variety of examples of fictional worlds: the spiritual, the marginal, the regional, the ideological, the psychological, the erotic, the ecological and the political. The methods of analysis identify these worlds, demonstrate both how they function in relation to the characters in the novels and how they affect the reader, and provide further illumination on the intentions, achievements and ideologies of the characters and of the novelists concerned. One of the findings of the study is that the greater the stress of war and conflict the more authors and characters tend to seek refuge in their imaginary (isotopic) worlds.


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List of illustrations/figures ix List of abbreviated novel titles xi Acknowledgements xiii Introduction 1 PART 1 The Great War 47 Chapter 1 Roland Dorgelès, Les Croix de bois (1919): Memotopia of martyrdom 53 Chapter 2 Raymond Radiguet, Le Diable au corps (1923): Egotopia and erotopia 69 Chapter 3 André Chamson, Roux le bandit (1925): Rurotopia and sacrotopia in the Cévennes 85 Chapter 4 Jules Romains, Prélude à Verdun (1937) and Verdun (1938): Les Hommes de bonne volonté (1932–1947) 99 Conclusion to Part 1 117 vi part 2 The War between the Wars 129 Chapter 1 Jean Giraudoux, Siegfried et le Limousin (1922): Amnesotopia – The effect of war on individual memory in peacetime 133 Chapter 2 André Chamson, L’Année des vaincus (1934): A Franco-German utopia/dystopia? 139 Chapter 3 André Malraux, L’Espoir (1937): The Spanish Civil War, as a preliminary to the Second World War 147 Chapter 4 Robert Brasillach, Les Sept Couleurs (1939): A rainbow too far – European Fascism and a divided France 169 Conclusion to Part 2 195 Part 3 Invasion 207 Chapter 1 On the margins: Julien Gracq, Un Balcon en forêt (1958) – Oneirotopia in conflict and wartime 211 Chapter 2 France violated: Irène Némirovsky, Suite française ([1941/1942] 2004) 235 vii Chapter 3 The labyrinth of defeat: Claude Simon, La Route des Flandres (1960) 249 Chapter 4 The rape of eastern Europe: Jonathan Littell, Les Bienveillantes (2006) – the Nazi occupation in Soviet Russia, France, Hungary, Poland 263 Conclusion to Part 3...

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