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Isotopias

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

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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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Part 5. Liberated spaces after 1945 … and beyond

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Part 5 Liberated spaces after 1945 … and beyond France’s position during the Occupation was, as we have seen in Part 4, characteristically ambivalent. Officially, it was no longer at war after the armistice of 1940. Resistance to the German army that had been minimal at the start of this period grew over the four years of occupation, particularly from November 1942 when the Germans occupied the southern (‘free’) zone. By 1944, it was well organized and able to contribute to the libera- tion of the country in the summer of that year in the wake of the Allied invasion of its northern coast on 6th June. There followed the landings in Provence on 15th August. Paris was liberated on 25th August, after a week of intense street-fighting, guerrilla warfare involving the Allied troops, and an insurrection in which the Resistance played an important part. The east of France was liberated in November; this included Strasbourg, a strategic political, military, cultural and religious symbol that was repossessed by the nation on 23rd November. At the celebratory Christmas mass in Strasbourg cathedral, the French gave thanks for victory: both Charles de Gaulle and André Malraux were present and, according to Malraux’s comrade-in-arms, André Chamson, met there for the first time.1 The following year, 1945, saw the liberation of the rest of the country, including the last pockets of German resistance on the Atlantic coast and in Alsace. As President, de Gaulle took charge of France’s provisional govern- ment, only to resign in...

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