Places and Spaces in French War Fiction of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
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.
Part 1. The Great War
PART 1 The Great War Of the four isotopic modes outlined in the Introduction, loss would seem to apply most appropriately to the terrible carnage caused in Europe by the Great War, or the First World War as it came to be called. It was in this vein that Sigmund Freud wrote despairingly, declaring that ‘no event has ever destroyed so much that is precious in the common possessions of humanity’.1 Not only were ‘common possessions’ destroyed, but so too were places and spaces, territories, and possessions that belonged to nations. Although few historians stress this basic fact, the War, like so many wars, was after all primarily about territory, about gaining, losing and repos- sessing land.2 Even in the last month of the war, November 1918, leaders still wanted to gain as much territory as possible if only to reinforce their positions at the negotiating table following the armistice, as is stated in the latest fictional account of France in World War I, Pierre Lemaitre’s Goncourt Prize-winning novel, Au revoir là-haut (2013).3 The fact may be so obvious as to not need stating; or perhaps it is because war is about territory, but also about more than just territory. Primo Levi sensed this when, in an interview, he tried to answer the difficult questions: why do men make war and what caused the two world wars? Ma réponse standard est de dire que cela fait partie de notre héritage animal … que … la conscience du territoire,...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.