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The Return of the Narrative: the Call for the Novel- Le retour à la narration : le désir du roman

Edited By Sabine van Wesemael and Suze van der Poll

This study focuses on the return of the narrative as applied by literary historians. Through the 1980s, criticism on the hermetic nature of many postmodern texts grew louder and louder: novelists expressed the wish to restore the bonds between the reader and the texts as well as between the texts and the extra-literary reality. Many fiction writers have grown tired of formalism and restore the conventions of realism, though not using them in a passive manner. Literary historians dealing with the post-postmodern or late postmodern European novel agree that conventional techniques are being adopted in new manners, and that all 20 th century tendencies that criticized and tried to overcome 19 th century realism do leave their traces on the contemporary novel: it might be a matter of hybrid forms combining realism and postmodernism.
Cette étude porte sur la notion, souvent avancée par des commentateurs du roman contemporain, du retour à la narration. Le romancier contemporain s’opposerait à l’hermétisme du roman postmoderne et désirerait rétablir le lien entre le texte et son lecteur et entre la littérature et la réalité extralittéraire. Les écrivains se lassent du formalisme et reprennent les conventions du réalisme sans toutefois les appliquer passivement ; l’auteur actuel n’envisage pas de restaurer une forme traditionnelle, mais de réécrire au second degré certains modèles romanesques afin de mieux représenter le monde contemporain. Le roman contemporain serait donc une forme hybride qui combine des tendances réalistes et postmodernes.
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Life narrative. Karl Ove Knausgård’s Min Kamp - a move from fiction to reality?

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‘The point was not to please. It was to speak the truth. To write reality’, said Knausgård in an interview with Jon Henley, commenting on the poetics in Min kamp, his six-volume series published between 2009 and 2011.1 By explicitly putting his own life at the centre of his writing in Min Kamp Knausgård not only shows the restoration of the bond between the literary text and extra-literary reality, he underlines too the renewed interest in character as an important ingredient of narrative. Operating both as literary character and self-conscious author commenting on the process of writing, Knausgård stresses the visibility of both narrator and author. Why did reader all over Europe and the United States ‘embrace’ the series, one could ask, as most of its elements have been commonplaces in autobiographical narratives. What is however typical of Min Kamp, and is made possible by its serial form, is that Knausgård not only expands on the process of writing, but that he simultaneously reflects on the process of being published, thus explicitly presenting literature as a tangible object, part of real life. The employing of the same serial form that enabled reality TV to keep its audience close, made the Danish literary critic Mikkel Krause Frantzen characterize Knausgård’s writings as “leakliterature”, underlining the enormous attraction of controversial leaking and disclosure which happens these days.2

Knausgård’s account of himself, stemming from his longing for reality, produces the effect of sincerity, characterized...

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