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Queneau’s Fictional Worlds

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Nina Bastin

Queneau’s novels are extremely popular for their wit and linguistic ingenuity but they also pose a serious challenge to the reader’s reconstruction of the fictional world, which can often go unrecognised. This study takes us back to the fundamental elements of Queneau’s worlds, demonstrating how his idiosyncratic style can affect the reader’s mental processing of the text (‘world-building’). It also demonstrates the internal organisation of Queneau’s fictional worlds. Drawing on cognitive discourse models and the philosophical notion of ‘possible worlds’, the book provides both comparative and general analysis of Queneau’s novels and case studies of Le Vol d’Icare, Les Fleurs bleues, and Loin de Rueil, exposing the resistance that these worlds present to stable cognitive reconstruction, notably through the subversion of world boundaries (‘world-play’), and the positing of impossible spaces (‘heterotopiae’).
Contents: Survey of the critical field of Queneau studies – Application of the principles of Cognitive Discourse Grammar to Queneau’s novels – A generalised reinterpretation of specific features of the novels in terms of their effects upon cognitive text processing (‘world-building’) – Investigation into the internal organisation of Queneau’s fictional worlds, and the problems they present for reconstruction by the reader - notably the subversion of world boundaries (‘world-play’), and the positing of impossible spaces (‘heterotopiae’) – A theoretical analysis of the interplay between cognitive models and the philosophical notion of ‘possible worlds’ – Extensive close readings of three of Queneau’s novels (Le Vol d’Icare, Les Fleurs bleues, and Loin de Rueil) – Extension of the notion of ‘world-play’ to describe Queneau’s wider writing practice.