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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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The majority of the terms used in this book and listed below are neolo- gisms, although a few should be familiar to most readers. Those that are not neologisms are marked with an asterisk. Types of isotopia Agoratopia – an open space Amnesotopia – a world of oblivion Aretopia – the world or arena of war and conflict Bistopia – the grey, indeterminate zone (of memory, for example) between two isotopias or fictional zones. Cinetopia – fictional scenes that borrow from, or are inspired by, cinema Claustrotopia – the world of the prison, or of an enclosed space Compound isotopia – a combination of different types of isotopia in the same scene or sequence Dramatopia – a theatrical space, a place presented as an arena of drama Dystopia – a nightmarish place* Ecotopia – a space or community that is ideal in ecological, environmental terms* Egotopia – a self-centred, egotistical world (as in Raymond Radiguet’s Le Diable au corps) Erotopia – the world of eroticism Heterotopia (Foucault) – a space or place that is other, both physical and mental* Hypertopia – an extension of mesotopia. Hypnotopia – the world of sleep 554 Glossary Infantopia – the world of childhood Intergeneric isotopia – a type of compound isotopia; when an imaginary world is imported from another literary genre (other than the novel) – e.g. poetry, journalism, drama.1 Intermedial isotopia – another kind of compound isotopia; when an imagi- nary world is imported from another aesthetic medium (e.g. music or painting) Intertextual isotopia – occurs where an author imports a scene involving place and/or space from another novel and integrates it into...

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