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Menippean Elements in Paul Scarron's «Roman comique»

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Barbara L. Merry

This work evaluates the influence of Menippean satire on the seventeenth-century French novel and specifically studies its role in the Roman comique. The analysis uncovers many links to Menippean satire. Among these: digression; an unreliable narrator; parody; doubling; double-voiced discourse, dialogism (in Bakhtin's terminology) and the oral nature of the tale told. While it may be impossible to prove that Scarron consciously imitated the Menippean writing of antiquity exemplified by the works of Varro, Seneca, Petronius, Lucian or Apuleius, or the Satyre Ménippée of 1594, Scarron manifestly participates in the displacement of interest toward anti-conventional, anti-novelistic and parodic strategies that later become a central element in the history of the novelistic genre.
Contents: The work reviews the current scholarship on Menippean satire and proposes a revised definition of the genre. It explores the range of Menippean elements in the Roman comique, as expressed in narratorial ambivalence, narrative performance, and in the use of orality as a narrative device.