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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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Chapter 4: Robert Brasillach, Les Sept Couleurs (1939): A rainbow too far – European Fascism and a divided France



Robert Brasillach, Les Sept Couleurs (1939): A rainbow too far – European Fascism and a divided France

In direct contrast with both André Chamson and André Malraux in the polemic between Left and Right that studded the inter-war era was the author and journalist Robert Brasillach. Openly pro-Fascist, he waged a ferocious ideological war with left-wing journalists and writers like Chamson and Malraux throughout the 1930s. In this chapter, we shall examine the ways in which his ideology influences his fictional perspective, particularly in spatial terms, and how that perspective differs from that of the previous two novelists. Of a total of seven novels, Les Sept Couleurs is Brasillach’s only experimental novel. It is for this reason, and because it presents a revealing portrait of a France divided by ideological conflict in the 1930s, that we shall explore aspects of place and space in the novel. The dominant mode in Les Sept Couleurs is that of alienation, as in Chamson’s L’Année des vaincus, although there are also significant elements of loss. It epitomizes, moreover, the mode that figures most prominently in the fiction of the interwar period.

Les Sept Couleurs tells the story of three young Parisians involved in an ‘eternal triangle’, the two male characters being Patrice Blanchon and François Courtet, who represent respectively the ‘dream partner’ and the ‘real partner’ for the heroine, Catherine Berger. Both are alienated from her in the course of the story, Patrice being seduced...

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